hen, exactly, do we reach the point in our lives when the thought of celebrating a birthday seems to be more of a nightmare than a party?
I began to wonder this very thing a couple of weeks ago while thinking of my upcoming birthday on Monday. Of course, it makes the thought of a celebration even less appealing that my son continuously reminds me of my age. I suppose that’s my payback for likely doing the same to my mom back when I thought turning 30 was a death sentence.
Birthdays as a child brings nothing but parties, presents and tons of people singing to you as you blow out colorful candles on a colorful cake. As a teenager and a young adult, they’re all about going out with friends for as many different festivities as you could possibly fit into a 24-hour period.
Back then, the days awaiting a birthday seemed to tick by slowly. You begin to plan a couple of months ahead of time for the event, wishing the days would move at record speed to get to your special day.
You get yourself all pumped up for the birthday fun, and in what seemed like a few hours, it was over. Then would come the long wait once again to earn your bragging rights of being another year older.
But when you reach adulthood, life seems to fly by so quickly. Raising the last digit of your age every 365 days makes most people cringe. Each year brings a couple more gray hairs and maybe even a new wrinkle.
Birthdays seem to creep up on you before you know the time has come once again. No sooner than one birthday passes, another seems to be on its heels. And instead of making special plans that span the whole day, we often go about our lives as usual, going to work, school or wherever else our day would normally take us.
We fuss and grumble about our ages and do all we can to shave off as many years as possible on the exterior. Some color their hair to cover the strands that have mysteriously turned a shade of silver. Some begin to walk or bike to fight the battle against Mother Nature and her body-changing sense of humor. Some even take up new hobbies to try to hold onto their youth as long as possible.
Many go through the proverbial “mid-life crisis,” when they do all of the things they wished they had done when they were younger. They buy motorcycles, convertibles, trendier clothes and modern gadgets.
The more I thought about turning another year older, though, the more blessed I felt. I’ve lived a good life so far, filled with both good and bad times. I’ve even caught myself thinking on occasion, “If I’d known then what I know now...”
But each of those moments have brought a new lesson learned — and isn’t that what life is really all about?
Age, as they say, is nothing but a number. So, yeah, I have to admit I’m not looking forward to adding another digit to my age on Monday, but I feel like I’ve earned the right to say I’ve made it successfully through another year.
In the last 365 days of my life, I’ve changed and grown as a person. I’ve continued to learn new things every day. I’ve gone through many things that have sent me on a journey to find myself again. And I can proudly say that I like what I’ve found.
Keeping all of these things in mind, I’m looking a little more forward to the marking of another passing year. I’ll be one of those who treats it like any other day, spending my normal eight hours right here at the Bladen Journal. I don’t have any enormous plans. There will be no party with 300 guests.
But, Lord willing, I’ll wake with a smile on my face, just as I do every morning, thankful to see another sunrise. I’ll make the most of my day, just as I try to do every day, thankful for each breath I am allowed to take. I’ll hug my family that evening and tell them how much I love them, just as I do every night.
Those are the things that matter most in life anyway. Those are the things that make every day a reason to celebrate.
In seeing things that way, I’ll happily add another number to my age and celebrate like there’s no tomorrow.
Now as long as I have enough breath to blow out all those candles...