Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Dear Abby

My local paper, the Oakland Press, has Dear Abby at the top of the page with the New York Times crossword.  If the column wasn't there, I probably would not read it.  But it is; so I do.

Awhile back a woman about to turn 50 wrote in about being depressed over the event and not wanting to celebrate it, but remain 'holding' at 49.  (Do not even ask why she wrote Abby about this!   It never makes any sense why half the people write Abby about any of this stuff, but it makes for non-stress reading after the front section of the paper.)

I laughed when I read it, because I had remained at 24 until my 40th birthday.  It just seemed like a good place to stop counting.  As I approached 50, I let my staff at the office know that there was to be no 'traditional' 50th party or they would be fired.  (Yes, I actually said that.)

My rant had nothing to do with 50, but rather the silly way those dates were celebrated at work.  On the long drive up to our building, employees would erect tombstones and then decorate the office in black.  As though 50 years marked the end on one's life!  I found it insensitive and crude and not in the least bit funny. 

Perhaps the losses of my father at age 56, a step-daughter at age 17, and a cousin at age 16 colored my feelings.  But for me, 50 was just another year and the start of a new decade for who knew what adventures to come.

To the credit of my secretary, they had a small celebration in the office.  My sister was contacted and she provided old photos of me growing up.  It was wonderful.  Two of my good friends took me out that night for dinner and had the requisite birthday cake and candle brought to the table while everyone sang 'Happy Birthday'.  That was a first for me!

Turning the big 5-0 it no big deal really, so why do your so-called 'friends' think they need to treat the birthday as some kind of 'end of your life' event?  The replies to Abby today talked about all the reasons the woman should be glad she is turning 50.  And so she should.  Not just at 50, but at whatever age you have achieved.  As Abby said, 'It sure beats the alternative.'

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