Birthday celebrations carry different levels of significance depending on your age. When you are celebrating your first one, you couldn’t care less. You have no idea why today is any different than yesterday. Mom and Dad are making a big fuss, as are almost everyone else in the room (an older sibling might be “fitching a pit” because they are not getting enough attention, but this, too, will pass). B-day 2 is slightly more important, probably because of the lead up excitement tends to carry over. You will have developed some understanding of the patterns of life and might notice today is different somehow. And there’s cake. Then you go to bed and life continues pretty much as before.
The bar gets set higher each year for the next half dozen or so, then seems to level out. Oh, it’s a great day, your B-day, but now it’s not necessarily the high point of your year (late December takes center stage) or the single focus point it might have been before. Other holidays are recognized and anticipated (the spring and fall candy festivals rank highly with people under the age of majority).
Over time, as the calendars pile up on the closet floor, other mileposts loom in the distance. You become “old enough to…” do various things. Drive a car, get a job, get a “friend” (rather than a buddy). Eventually you can drink, vote, and get drafted (not so much now, but a VERY frightening area of growing up during the ’60’s and ’70’s).
But eventually, you hit a plateau, where adding another notch on the belt of life is pretty much just another day (however, one with cake and ice cream). You don’t generally get any substantial benefits from what you had the day before (some restaurants will discount your meal based on your age, but a 1% additional reduction won’t cover the taxes for the meal). And there become certain milestone numbers that actual have additional stress attached (more emotional than rational, but for adult males the first doctor’s appointment after the big 5-0 has “thrills” that can be unnerving to contemplate). Decade numbers (30, 40, 50, …) are all mental triggers you are indeed getting old(er). For some, that is unsettling at best. Some simply choose to deny or ignore the numbers as they get larger.
I was at a friend’s forty-first (it is less stressful to see it written this way than to just put “41” out there) birthday party. There was around twenty people around and we sat and enjoyed stories and talk (and the mandatory cake and ice cream). Overall it went well, but there was a comment made that really brought us back to reality. Someone mentioned that we didn’t do the same things we had a couple of years ago (might have been referencing a bowling event following the C&IC segment). As the night wore on people excused themselves to depart for home, and eventually the celebrant also departed for home and bed. The end of the event sort of fizzled out and ended with more of a whimper than a bang.
In fairness, there are children tangentially involved that were not “present” during earlier celebrations (I still have one of the “It’s a Boy” cigars as proof) so dad can be exonerated for seeking an opportunity to catch a few additional moments of shut eye. And gravity has increased (continues to grow larger with each passing year) while the length of each day grows shorter over time (while there is about the same amount of light in each day as when I was a kid, they don’t put anywhere as much dark in the nights anymore… just look at the bags under my eyes). So a (more) sedate party should not come as a surprise anymore.
I’m just not looking forward to the pit stops during the upcoming wheelchair races in the (hopefully distant) future.
post 28 of n