You know, when I was a child, I used to love birthdays. I think it was mainly because my birthday was right in the middle of the school holidays and usually the weather was good.
My parents would usually organize a big party in the garden and all my friends, neighbours and of course family would come. My memories are all happy ones and I always recall that my maternal grandmother would say: ‘what is the good of a birthday if you can’t do what you like?’ How true is that?
My idea of a great birthday treat would be a visit to a funfair, like the one in Battersea in London. Now I suspect a lot of your reading this will not even remember that there was a permanent funfair at Battersea and a wonderful tree walk high up amongst the trees. We would go every year, that is all I asked for and go on every single ride, several times.
When you are young you always seems to be yearning for the phenomena – getting older! I wonder why? Is it that the number of years means that we are able to do more and more and become independent? Certainly yes, when reaching the age of 18, you can learn to drive a car! Then freedom to come and go, as you want.
One of the biggest parties we ever gave was for my 21stBirthday Party. Can you remember the famous little song : 21 Today? We hired a small hall in Send, near Woking in Surrey and also a DJ. Mike Reid, (who just happened to be in my circle of friends), then went on to become a really well known BBC Radio Disc Jockey. Literally everyone would be invited because there was more space and my mother and I would prepare the food, whilst my father took care of arranging the drinks. Everyone seemed also to chip in, help wise.
When you are younger you seem to have an incredibly long list of things you would like to have. So presents are plentiful and easy for people to buy. So when does the lustre and shine fade when it comes to yet another year has passed by and it’s your birthday again?
I think as far as I was concerned it was the sudden realization, at the time, that I was 30! The twenties had flown by and then I had a family of my own and all the attention was spent on birthdays for the children. Especially when you have two born within one day of each other. We in turn organized huge parties for them too, in the garden, as May can be very good weather wise for barbeques and literally everyone would be invited because we had the space. It was fun! Maybe some of you reading this will recall the parties well, 60-odd people all in our garden! Chairs borrowed from all the neighbours and all the Dad’s helping with the BBQ.
Yesterday was my birthday and I am 65. The official age when you become an ‘old aged person’. In the meantime my own children are coming up to or into their 30’s too. I had to laugh when one of my school friends sent me a message that ’65 is the new 45’. I wish!
But to be truthful I don’t feel as if I am 65. I don’t feel as if I am old now. Let’s be honest it is only numbers. Do we really care? It is more the stigma which society attaches to the idea that when you are 65 you are past it and you stop working (well that is certainly not the case here in The Netherlands where I live, as the ‘pension age’ has been lifted to 67.) The reason is that people are living much longer these days. Look back at your own family tree. 65 used to be old, now it is often seen as the stepping stone to more freedom and time to do all the things you wanted to do, but always put off because of other obligations, the biggest one of which was – Work!
Recently someone asked me if there was a mistake on my official hospital records concerning my age. The year could not be right, they said. You certainly don’t look that old. That is the crux of the matter; I don’t think that either, so why should I ever spend one single second worrying about numbers. Despite the fact that I pay a lot of attention to numbers sometimes when they have some significance. But age is something that is attached to feeling. How old do you actually feel? Probably a lot of people who work under extreme pressure, the 30-40 years old’s will probably answer that they feel about 80 at the end of a high-pressure working week. When tiredness and exhaustion become part of daily life, that burnout’s are very common too, in that age group.
So I come back to what my gran used to say: birthdays are just all about celebrating your arrival on this planet and the years are all about experience and wisdom. How your life has panned out so far? Birthdays are all about doing what you want and like and no longer an obligation. So chin up everyone, age is now declared unimportant, it is how you yourself feel and if you don’t want to act the age of your numbers, then don’t.
I did not have a big party yesterday, it was a very quiet day, but the lovely thing was that I got so many messages on social media and all my old (sorry I should say former) school friends sent me messages. That is better than any present, the fact that all these years further on, they still think about me, even though we don’t see one another on a daily basis. That readers of my blogs sent me birthday wishes, as well as lots of contacts on social media. I appreciate that. I mean it.
If you would ask me well, what present would you like, well it’s easy: It’s knowing that family, friends, neighbours and loved ones care. Care enough to just stop what they are doing and say ‘hello! Happy Birthday!, Have a magical day’. That is what counts most of all. Agree?
Jill Kramer 21.8.2019 (copyright)
Images: From Google Images