Thursday, February 28, 2013

On turning 60 - to celebrate or not?

I wasn't sure that I wanted to celebrate turning 60 with a birthday party. To be honest I thought I wanted to ignore the event entirely. I thought it didn't matter.

But I was wrong.

When I remembered my friends and family who hadn't marked the event, I realised it did matter to me. I'd felt a bit lost when people precious to me hadn't "done something" - something was missing, and I eventually acknowledged that I wanted to get together with others, raise a glass and acknowledge the important part they'd played in my life.

And if I thought that, then surely it was only fair to celebrate as I wished others had.

Okay ... but how?

Low key. Down to earth. What do I want to do with my life next? How would I like my wonderful friends and family to be involved?

I'd been dreaming of getting some advice about setting up a permaculture garden. We have a lacklustre garden, unproductive and a bit sad, so maybe ....?

Belatedly the invitations were sent out; the celebration set for afternoon tea, and gifts as such were discouraged - but a cutting, seeds or strike from my friends' own gardens would be wonderful! The logic - I enjoy giving gifts and would totally ignore a "no gifts" request, I assume others would too, so surely it's ok to acknowledge that and give a hint?

And it turned out to be the best, most fun birthday celebration I've ever had!
The little kid down the road was celebrating his birthday on the same day, and his parents had arranged for a jumping castle and a petting farm with baby animals to be set up in the front yard. Admittedly, this was a bit of a distraction for my guests, many of whom were somewhat envious. But who could argue that a scarecrow made especially for me trumps a jumping castle and cute animals any day! And the possibility of injured aged hips and ankles getting twisted with the unaccustomed leaping might have been a disaster waiting to happen.

Oh darn, time for a smidge more honesty - I wish I'd thought of a jumping castle! That would have been so much fun ;-)

But back to the adult party. Can you see in the photo? I received flowers, seeds, seedlings, snail bait, a self-sown bay tree, a subscription to The Diggers Club, books, vegetables and even chocolate (for after all the energetic gardening I'll be doing!)

And mounds of cards and an abundance of cherishing, loving hugs, comments and words and even a poem!

Edinburgh. Ben Warner. 
One of my artistic relatives encouraged me to choose one of his paintings. Thankyou so much Ben. I was nearly in tears when you offered me something you'd created and even writing this now brings a lump to my throat. It was hard to choose from your folio, but I loved visiting Edinburgh and your painting of that city feels so at home here. I'll enjoy arranging for it to be framed!

I think what I'm trying to say in a somewhat clumsy manner is - many of us like to give, but we have trouble receiving. We shrug off compliments, we're flippant about our skills and talents. We pretend we're strong, even though we're crying inside. But sometimes it's important to slow down enough to let others show they care and bask in their love and revel in the luxury of their hugs.

And now, a question. How do you allow others to show they care?



Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue - well it sounds a good day was had by all - friends, family and the street party ...

The Permaculture garden sounds a wonderful idea .. and I do love the scarecrow - he's magnificent .. perhaps he's a she?!

I do love being taken out or pampered .. but I usually arrange my own or on occasions get celebrated .. I had two 50ths one here and one in SA - that was fun as I had no work for either! I'm in January .. so my birthdays in SA were always much better than those here .. my 60th was a nightmare - Mum was ill, my uncle was ill and I was totally overloaded and a friend came from SA to celebrate with me - not the best idea ... she did say she didn't realise how near break point I was.

All grist to the mill - would love to see the permaculture garden prosper and visit sometime .. sometime being the operative word ..

Congratulations though .. and I share a cheers with you - Hilary

walk2write said...

Here's another birthday wish for you! I know exactly what you mean about self-denial. It seems like a good idea, but it ends up leaving a hole in your heart and a void in relationships. Celebrations are important, but they don't have to be lavish. I love your gift idea of sharing something from the garden or (in your friend Ben's case) from the heart.

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, happy birthday! 60 is an important one. It is your Chinese century, you know... they have 12 animals and 5 elements in the zodiac and each pairing comes along once every sixty years, which makes you a water snake. (intelligent, creative, and more connected to reality than your fellow snakes). I tend to like a birthday drawn out for a full month, so I might not be the most objective on whether to ask if you let your friends show up to celebrate... My birthday is almost 4 months away and I'd be happy if the party was already starting (and it's not even a significant birthdya, other than being a prime number)

Jan Morrison said...

I didn't go big on my sixtieth but that was mainly because it was sort of a crappy year. I had fun last year on my 61st though. I guess it is also because it is four days before Christmas - people are busy or out of town, it is cold or blizzarding or something. I want a summer birthday in a garden! Maybe I'll have one this summer. Yep. I think I will.
I like folks making a fuss generally. I think I am an Italian born into a Scottish Presbyterian family. ha.
Looks like you had a ball and happy happy year to come!

Sue Travers said...

Hilary I fully understand the experience of being overloaded. There were a number of years where there was so much grief with my parents illnesses that it was a struggle to find much of anything positive at all.

I've been encouraged to share my gardening adventure on my blog, so if and when you do make it over here, you'll know what to expect!

And belated cheers to you too, and thanks for your continued support!

Thankyou so much w2w! Celebrations can be overdone, and they aren't necessarily better for having been costly. I think we sometimes forget that. "from the heart" yes! those are perfect words - thankyou.

Hart, thankyou! That Chinese description does sound like me - pity that reality can be such a pill at times.
I'd seriously thought about having a long drawn out celebration, but life got complex and it couldn't happen. A prime birthday! Yaaay.

Jan, those crappy years do seem to hit us all and kind of take the wind out of our sails for a while. Thank goodness we generally bounce back. My daughter's birthday is around Christmas, and even though it's summer, when she was little we celebrated mid year instead. It works! She blossomed with the attention. Thanks for your good wishes :)

cheers all, thanks for visiting!

Ms. Becky said...

I really like how you've put that - "how to allow others to show they care".
I do agree, it's often easier to give than receive but it's important to be open to receive; that's something I'm still learning. Congrats on the 60-year mark Sue, and a belated happy birthday. The celebration sounds a smashing success. wishing you many joys and years to come. happy week to you also. take care now.

Sue Travers said...

Becky, thanks for dropping by! You're certainly not alone in learning to receive - it's not easy is it. Thanks for the birthday wishes. In hindsight, I think it was a good idea to suggest seeds and seedlings - I have lots of basil for pesto and a range of seeds to sow. Plants really are the gift that keeps on giving :)

Have a beaut week too.