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How Do You Age? March 23, 2006

Posted by fajita in Uncategorized.

Why do birthdays become less and less exciting the older you get? It seems like the older a person gets, the less joy there is in the celebration of the birthday. When people are young, birthdays are exciting, but when they get to be parents the excitement diminishes. When a person nears retirement, you can’t even mention their age.

For example, my son just rushed into his sixth year with all the gusto he could muster. Everything was the greatest thing. The presents, the pizza, the movie – everything was simply the best. He basked in the birthday limelight like an academy award winner. The smile on his face so genuinely captured the joy and excitement that flooded his heart that there was no mistaking just who the birthday boy was. He’s loved and special and he knows it – in the innocent and unassuming six year old way of knowing it.

By contrast, my brother turns 40 next week. He has declared that there will be no parties, no presents, no scheduling of special events, no singing of “Happy Birthday” by the wait staff at the local restaurant (who sing it to the wrong tune, by the way – he wants nothing. He wanted us all to know, as he has for the past several years, that his birthday is just like any other day and that people need to quit getting all excited about that day – it’s just a day. He did concede a little and allowed the rest of the family to acknowledge that he is indeed a year older – and I think there might be a cake thrown in there somewhere, but not because he wants it.

Going further still, my mother’s birthday will be in September. Although she does expect a card or flower or something sweet, that does not mean she is celebrating her birthday. Rather than saying thanks for a card or small gift, she is just as likely to say: “Who cares about an F.O.B (Fat Old Bag) like me anyway?” (She has recently resorted to creative acronyms for her emotional expressions. I don’t even want to tell you what P.O.E means). Rather than a birthday party, she is more likely to throw herself a pity party, invite no one, and then be silently upset that you weren’t there. Oh, and for goodness sake, don’t mention her age, please.

So, for the sake of my mother, I will keep her age a secret. But I can tell you this: when I turn 59 I’m not going to hide it.

Well, now that you’ve accidentally wandered into the world of my family dysfunction, a dysfunction to which I generously contribute, how do you do birthdays? Do you suffer from B.E.D.S (Birthday Excitement Deterioration Syndrome) like my family does? Has our youth-obsessed culture got you dreading your next birthday, especially the birthdays ending in zero? Seriously, how many times can you be 29 or 39?

I want to propose a new way of thinking. Rather than obsessing about ways to remain young (and therefore important), how about considering the beauty of aging?

Huh? Don’t people get wrinkled and ugly when they get old? Well, for the sake of conversation, let’s pretend for just a minute that beauty is more than what the magazine covers have indoctrinated us into believing. For a moment, let’s think about beauty as something more than perfect skin, slender bodies, firm muscles, and huge…you get the point. Let’s go just a little deeper.

There is a certain beauty hidden only in the wisdom that comes (usually) with age. Oh sure, there are a few old cranks out there looking to make everyone as miserable as they are, but you just got to know that started long before they got old.

There is a deep beauty in a smile gracing the face of a person who has “seen it all.” I mean really, if you can live seven or eight decades on this planet and are still capable of smiling, then there is certainly something right with you – and beautiful, too. It is the smile of priorities finally coming into focus, finding hope in the legacy about to be born, and in the mysterious, almost adventurous, thoughts about what lies beyond this life here on earth.

I really think we have it backwards. Every next birthday should bring more joy, more excitement, at least more satisfaction. There is hope in aging. What a privilege: on my next birthday I get to be 37, and I can’t wait.



1. TL - March 23, 2006

I’ll be 43 on June 7! But, I’m not telling you how much I weigh!

2. DJG - March 23, 2006

So far I am the most wise and beautiful person that has commented….F F S

47 who knows what the other F is for.

3. Karen - March 24, 2006

Hey, I get to be the “baby” of the current repliers. I’ll be 42 in June. :o)

4. Chad Nall - March 24, 2006

Being in ministry and the age I am (all of 34 years), I constantly consider Jesus’ life and that he was given a little over 33 years. Everything else is bonus as far as I’m concerned.

On another note, the day after her 7th birthday, Julia already new what she wanted to do for her 8th birthday.

5. Beaner - March 24, 2006

I keep forgetting how old I am. I really thought this was some sort of lie people told, but I really have to stop & think about it now. I keep thinking I’m a year or two older, but I am 31. Turning 30 was ugly. I have a feeling I will be a better 40-yr. old (I hope!) Maybe I’ll have gained some wisdom at least.

6. TCS - March 24, 2006

do you ever feel like one of those people who have been cut out of a picture?

7. Fajita - March 24, 2006

TCS, What are you talking about?

8. TCS - March 24, 2006

I will send you the picture.

9. TCS - March 24, 2006

By the way, I am a few months ahead of you.

10. Fajita - March 24, 2006

OK, I get the picture…ha

Would have been nice to be there with my blogging family.

Now you’re ahead of me? You probably are, but again, what are you talking about?

11. Bek - March 25, 2006

ya, whats to fear about birthdays? of course i’m a little on the younger side of things. but i think my youth gets to keep being renewed! thats how i plan it anyway. does poe mean pretty old enough?

12. Joel Maners - March 25, 2006

I just turned 40 last week. I wrote an item about it on my blog. Normally I just don’t notice when it’s my birthday. I’ve got too much going on to celerate. My wife threw a party for me this year. It was nice but I really just enjoy the peace and quiet more. My sneaking, profound suspicion is this. NO ONE CARES! Why should I bother anyone with inviting them to a birthday party?

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