Enjoy and Brag about Turning Age 50 - A Plan for Celebrating which Worked for Me
Birthdays are Fun
Born in '55
I am a woman born in 1955. This means I have one foot in the ridiculous Eisenhower era of house-wifery and one foot in the era of Women’s Lib and beyond.
(Am I permitted a third foot? If I am, that appendage is delighted, yet simultaneously befuddled, as it occupies the techno-information era!)
Lying about your Age is SO Last Century
My very earliest years were influenced by my stay-at-home mother and all my friends’ stay-at-home mothers as role models. Homemaking as a full-time endeavor was de rigeur for female adults in our area. Amazingly, the federal government (I recently learned) surreptitiously promoted this practice because it wanted to covertly remove the selfless Rosie-the-Riveters from their jobs so that returning WWII veterans would have work. Sheesh.
Anyway, one of the rules of this time period was that it is extremely RUDE to inquire what a woman’s age is – very impolite, very ill-bred, etc. Furthermore, a tandem practice existed that a woman did not divulge her age – I think some sort of shame was attached to aging of females. And, this was before the Baby Boomers had even reached puberty to spread their dream of eternal youth! As you will see later, I reject this thinking.
Age of Aquarius
Women’s Liberation, People’s Liberation, Black Power, Civil Rights, Gray Panthers, and reasonable skepticism needed to follow. They did. With these movements and changes, Americans heightened their awareness of inequality and demeaning situations in our society. We learned that if men in the workplace are “men,” then females in the workplace are “women,” not girls* . Moreover, we learned that it was ok to be ourselves whether that means curly hair, afro-able hair, or gray hair. Short is ok. Ethnic is ok. We do not need to remake ourselves into Ozzie and Harriet (a television program centering around a white middle class family with a working father and a stay-at-home mom.)
Orchestrate Your Own Celebration
Enter the approach of my fiftieth birthday. I knew I wanted to take control of it as a meaningful date and not become a wussy crybaby over it. I had no particular dread of being age 50, however, my 25th birthday had taken me by surprise with accompaniments of fear of being “a quarter of a century old,” thoughts on living, dying, aging, the whole shebang. My 30th and 40th birthdays were fine, but I just didn’t know whether I would again be unpleasantly surprised on the 50th birthday.
Thus the plan hatched: I chose to take a full year to celebrate age 5-0, starting the year before. I announced my request that every friend with whom I got together during this time would indulge my wish to thrust a birthday candle for myself into our dessert. Because they are my friends and accept that I am one of the more strongly iconoclastic or creative of their buddies, they supported me. Bless them! This provided for much merriment and silliness. I am deeply grateful to a long-distance galfriend who actually mailed a card, a gift, and frivolous candles and supplies. KB, I still have them!
I was a public school teacher at the time – giving of my talents in a middle school. I wanted all my pubescent charges, especially the girls, to know that turning age fifty is a good thing. (Turning any age and being healthy is a danged good thing!) Since I am generous with my values, I ordered enough bakery cupcakes for all my sections of math, my English section, and my homeroom. These students were going to see that turning age fifty as a female means treats! On some subconscious level, I hope it sunk in.
When the actual fiftieth anniversary of my birth arrived, it was anticlimactic. I had been partying heartily for a good year and was quite accustomed to the number and the notion. It was a rather routine and unremarkable day. And that was A-OK.
Not to be preachy or anything close, I am sharing these ideas because they worked for me. If you would like to use or modify any of them, please make yourself happy in your own celebrations!
Photo and text copyright 2011 Maren Morgan. Yes, At the time of posting, I am now a feisty and proud age 56! Nya-nya!
* I am sad to report that in Berks County, Pennsylvania many individuals in the workforce continue the archaic, insulting practice of calling mature, utterly professional, female workers “girls.” Sweet Jesus, when will it end?
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