Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Another Year Another Birthday

Today you are you! That is truer than true! 
There is no one alive who is you-er than you! 
Dr. Seuss

Birthdays change as we age. Actually birthdays don’t change – we do. The date closes in on us every year, challenging us, congratulating us, warning us. 

A child’s excitement wanes over the years. There is a specialness to turning 18, 21, maybe 30 – but eventually the years seem not so special anymore. Should we celebrate turning 65? Certainly the government is not delighted about the milestone. We become Medicare recipients and part of the 47% of Americans Mitt Romney derided as “dependent on government”. Well, yes, but we spent decades working and contributing…

It is an achievement to turn over the years as we enter our 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and more people every day turn 100+. But it’s not a new occurrence for people to live a very long time. The Bible tells us a number of men lived hundreds of years – Methusaleh being the longest-lived, passing at the ripe old age of 969.

I don’t think any of us will live close to 900+ years. Too much food, salt, sugar, too little exercise, and don’t forget those chemicals coursing through our body from foods and the air we breathe. But people haven’t lived close to 1,000 years in centuries – if they ever did, which I strongly doubt.

What about the oldest woman? For some unknown reason (probably because men were in charge of Bible stories), the age of only one woman is given in the Bible – Sarah, who died at 127. She gave birth to Isaac at the age of 90. Abraham was 100 when his son was born. No comment…

Children can’t wait for birthday parties, presents, cake and ice cream. Except for presents, I can pass on the other celebratory events. But birthdays for mature folks are a mark of achievement. We managed to survive the decades and want to acknowledge the feat. 

Birthdays are also an excuse to consume (a favorite American pastime). And party. Not every birthday, but once in a while.

People have recognized the special day of rulers, kings, gods and goddesses for eons. The Romans were probably the first to celebrate the common man’s birthday, and honored a man’s 50th  birthday with a special cake. 

Early Christians considered birthday celebrations a pagan ritual and forbid them. But people wanted their special day. The Church began celebrating Jesus’ birthday (Christmas) in the 4thcentury, and eventually the common folk adopted the birthday tradition.

Women’s birthdays were not an occasion for festivities until the 12th century.

This year I will spend my day performing my civic duty serving on a grand jury, and will probably be too tired to go out to dinner afterwards. Years ago a day of work would not preclude a night out, but nowadays…

Pondering birthdays, I think the occasion is perfect for doing something special or different, something memorable. I will report on my memorable experience next post.
How old am I? Age is a number…and mine is unlisted.

The secret to staying young is to live honestly,
eat slowly and lie about your age.
- Lucille Ball