Sunday, November 13, 2011

Happy Birthday

My mom's 60th birthday party was last night, and the affair was delicious, well-attended, and punch-y. Specifically, Fish House Punch-y. My aunt discovered that this Mad Men-era drink debuted in 1951, the year my mother was born. And, lemme tell you, while I am not a punch person per say; having abandoned all want for drinking large batches of sticky-sweet libations after an ill-fated jungle juice experience in college; this drink is nothing short of delicious. None too sweet, and lacking the cloying factor of most punches, this drink lives up to its name with the punch it packs.

The party was fantastic, and it was great to see so many people turn out to celebrate my mom's milestone birthday. Lots of family and old friends. A time for remembering the past and being thankful for birthdays; in her remarks right before she cut the cake, my mom said that while she can't believe she's turning 60, she's thankful for every birthday she's ever had because, hey, it beats the alternative.

Does it ever. My dad turned 60 two years ago in the midst of Snowmageddon, my mom is now entering this new decade, and I remember that I'm about six months away from leaving my twenties behind. I've had a number of friends already cross the threshold to the dirty thirty, and the process has seemed to afford mixed reviews. Some take it in stride, figuring nothing's really changed from 29 to 30 except what you punch into the treadmill at the gym. Some feel weighed down by the passing of time, perhaps even a few regrets about how that time might have been spent. But, for the most part, I think turning 30 is vastly different from turning 60, mostly because you're not yet realizing that the alternative becomes more and more apparent as you get older.

Turning 30 is fraught with social obligations and expectations, and a time to take stock of what your adult life is really going to look like. But turning 60 has afforded years of experience, and with that experience comes loss. Turning 60 is a time of gratitude and enjoyment, even if it's coupled with a little bit of disbelief. I think there's a learning experience in that.

I've never had any problems with my age, but I'll admit that I have some trepidation about 30. It just feels big. But my mom reminds me that it doesn't have to be - and isn't - bad. Change is good. And, quite frankly, there's a lot of things I'm not too upset to leave behind with my twenties.

Instead of focusing on what I don't have, or what hasn't happened, I think there's an opportunity here to celebrate, and to wish for the vain and spectacular hope that there will be many more big milestone birthdays to celebrate. Because how fantastic would it be to be 60, surrounded by family and friends who love you, who are present, who are celebrating your life with you?

Happy Birthday, Mom. Your grace in turning 60 is something to which I aspire. And when you turn 70, and 80, and 90, I only hope that we make bigger and bigger batches of Fish House Punch to celebrate.

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