Senior Birthdays


March 15, 2016 by Jean

imageLast week, I had a birthday. I’m not a person who dreads getting older. A serious cancer diagnosis when I was fifty gave me a clear understanding of the alternative to aging, and I see each year as a gift. At this stage of life, however, I no longer care about having a group celebration on my actual birthday. I had a big blow-out bash with family and friends for my 50th birthday and I might do it again for my 70th. (I still feel as though those decade marks deserve special attention.) But even if I don’t have a celebration with others, I still enjoy the day.

Most years, I spend my birthday alone at home indulging in small pleasures, which is what I did this year. Although my birthday fell on a weekday, I jettisoned my usual weekday schedule in favor of the kind of a relaxing day more characteristic of my weekends. Over breakfast, I began reading a novel that I had specifically saved for the occasion, Bury Your Dead (Minotaur Books, 2010), the sixth in Louise Penny’s mystery series featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. I am drawn to these novels by their setting in Quebec, with its rich culture and complicated politics founded on the history of Francophone-Anglophone relations. (Three of my four grandparents were French Canadian immigrants to the United States.) I also love the way Penny creates complex characters full of both strengths and human flaws and the way that she builds up new layers of complexity in each novel.

My reading was only one element of my birthday enjoyment. My birthday fell on an unseasonably warm and sunny spring-like day. In the afternoon, I took advantage of the weather by going out for a walk around my neighborhood with my camera to photograph signs of spring. I also indulged myself with meals made from favorite foods.

I no longer exchange birthday gifts with family and friends, but I did enjoy the birthday greetings that came by telephone, in the mail, by email, and on Facebook. In addition, I saved some special purchases to treat myself on this special day. I indulged my tea addiction by placing an order for some of my favorite teas from my favorite tea retailer, Upton Tea Imports. I also treated myself by signing up for several spring and summer courses at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, a gift to myself that will unfold in the months to come.

I may not have big birthday celebrations with cake and presents, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the day.

18 thoughts on “Senior Birthdays

  1. pagedogs says:

    Happy belated birthday Jean! Here’s wishing you a productive, joyful, interesting upcoming year, with bits of bliss splashed here and there.

  2. Jean R. says:

    Happy Birthday from one Jean to another! I love your approach to birthdays. Doing something special for ourselves as we age makes total sense. A good book, good coffee and a few calls from family is all I need to be happy. I have to check out Upton Tea Imports. My nieces are tea people, got it from my mother but I still have one cup a day.

    • Jean says:

      Thank you, Jean. I am a pro at pampering myself, and I make a special point of it on special days. 🙂 Upton Tea’s website can be a bit overwhelming if you’re not a tea person — sort of like buying wine with all those regions, estates, and special blends. But if your nieces are serious about tea, they would probably love knowing about Upton. (A British woman who runs a B&B in Ketchikan, Alaska introduced me to Upton.)

  3. says:

    Happy belated Birthday from Seattle!

  4. Rusty Roessler says:

    Nice post Jean. I always marvel at how many things we share in common and yet live such different lifestyles. I have always thought birthdays were for children. I, flew Barb’s twin Tip to Washington, rented a limo and dinner at the Met in Seattle for their 50th but that is about it.
    I have not been home for my birthday in 35 years. I am always in Alaska and seldom tell anyone unless it is at a bar and I can get a free drink!
    I trust you had a pleasant day and I am reasonably sure I will have also.

    • Jean says:

      Rusty, I am also enjoying the found commonalities with classmates I didn’t know well when we were young (although this is accompanied by the occasional experience of finding out I don’t have much in common anymore with an old friend). I don’t think I would go as far as you in saying birthdays are just for kids; I always mark the day in some (usually low-key) way. I had a very pleasant day (easy to do because I am very much enjoying my retiree life).

  5. Diana Studer says:

    I wish you happy birthday pleasures as the next year unfolds!

  6. Honey Bee says:

    So lovely to hear about your birthday celebrations.

    Last year, for my 66th birthday, I “just happened” to see a poster for a free sail at a local yacht club. I had never been sailing, so thought it would be fun, and it happened to fall right on my birthday. It was a delightful experience on a Saturday morning out on Lake Ontario. At lunch time I joined friends of a Cancer Support Group for a pot luck. Someone served angel food cake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. What cake could be better?

    The hostess just happened to be a professional photographer so she took me out to her lovely grounds for a photo shoot. My first by a professional. I came away with a CD of lovely shots and a jar of fresh preserves.

    Both the yacht club and my support group sang “Happy Birthday” to me! I thought my birthday totally exceeded any expectations.

    This year I have booked a Mystery Tour around the time of my birthday. It will be four days of pleasant sight seeing with a coach full of wonderful people.

    Life over 60 has been wonderful, in spite of many challenges.

    Thank you for your lovely blog. I find it informative and inspiring.

    Best wishes,
    Honey Bee

  7. A perfect birthday celebration….I too love to spend time outside and am lucky mine is at the end of May! Happy Birthday Jean!

    • Jean says:

      Donna, How clever of your mother to give birth at such a lovely time of year — definitely better for outside activity than mid-March, which can be a bit iffy. 🙂

  8. Happy (late) birthday to one of my favorite bloggers! May the year ahead be filled with treasures of the self and many blossoms in this colorful world. ❤

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I am Jean Potuchek, a professional sociologist who has just stepped into the next phase of my life, retirement, after more than thirty years of college teaching. This blog is about my experience of that new phase of life.

Please join me as I step into my future.

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