Not deferential enough: fiftysomething

Posted Wednesday, February 13, 2013 in Opinion

Not deferential enough: fiftysomething

by Gina Hamilton

I had a birthday this week.  After a Certain Age, we stop counting, and even forget how old we are ... for more than a week I thought I was turning 53.  I wasn't.  But I can't even imagine, as a child or teen, forgetting my age.

My birthday happens in Valentine week, so throughout most of my growing up years, my friends would present me with pink and purple and red items for my birthday, because that's what was available in the little shops we could get to in the dead of winter without bicycles.  I had a lot of pink teddy bears and white kitties with red ribbons, and pots of flowering houseplants in red-hearted buckets or baskets with shiny purple ribbons.  My friends gave me a lot of "sweet hearts", those little candies with the one or two word jazzy message printed on them that taste a lot like dusty Necco wafers, in small heart-shaped boxes.  These were displayed nicely in my room above my desk for four months (well, we usually ate the candy) and then the stuffed toys would generally go to my younger sister and the plants would either die or go to a teacher, who would promise to love, honor, and cherish them through the summer. 

I'd get gifts from my family, too, but those tended to be in the nature of books I'd asked for or a new guitar or tennis racket, and a lot of record albums from my brother and sister, who were usually about half a year late in terms of my rapidly changing tastes.  Not their fault, to be sure.  I jumped around a great deal in those days.  Still, a vintage Beatles album or a Simon and Garfunkel album or a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young album had staying power, and I was always glad of those things later on, even when I was listening to The Clash and Elvis Costello and The English Beat.  Well, until I had to move them again.

So it's not too surprising that I identify my birthday with Valentine's Day, and that I still think of birthday gifts as being fairly ephemeral. 

This year, my husband bought me a cyclamen plant and a couple of heat lamps for my chickens, and an Amazon gift card.  And we went out to lunch, and he baked me a lemon cake.  You can't really ask for more than that.  My son and heir is looking for a greenhouse for me, should spring ever arrive. 

I have remarkable good luck with cyclamen; they're hard to kill and come back time and again even if you think they're dead.  Which I suppose is a good, solid kind of plant to get on one's birthday, especially when one is a fiftysomething.

And the new sort of ephemeral greetings occur on social media.  Most of my friends have sent greetings, not in the mail or in the form of stuffed animals and flowers, but with pretty images and happy returns on Facebook, the best place to keep friendly greetings.

blog comments powered by Disqus