We are not the sort of family to make a big deal over birthdays. We don't totally ignore them, but we are less Birthday Bash and more "eat-out-and-come-home-for-dessert-and-open-your-presents". (And one of the presents is pretty much guaranteed to be a shirt.)
So the Week-That-Bruce-Turned-70 was uncharacteristically celebratory. Last weekend, while Toni was here, we had a family birthday dinner followed by a family birthday brunch followed by presents that were a cut above the usual: a fancy thermostat that learns your habits and reinforces you for good environmental choices, and at the other end of the technology spectrum, a sundial. There was also a shirt cunningly hidden among 70 individual (and unique) bottles of beer, each labelled with an individual and unique message to the effect that Bruce deserves a bottle of beer because ......he does all the ironing.....he patiently listens to his kids' woes....he makes us laugh.....etc, etc 67 more times. The beer was Toni's inspired idea and we had fun pulling it off -- hiding and labelling and packing all those clinking bottles!
A week ago our friend John (in New Zealand) emailed with birthday wishes and advice. He admonished us to have a party with cake and candles because 70 is worth celebrating, and so is every subsequent birthday. He says he has a party every year, now.
He is right. There is only have one opportunity to rejoice in 70 years, well-lived. Every year is a gift, and the older you are, the more you realize it.
And the candles? The family dinner did have a cake with candles -- wax letters spelling "Happy Birthday" that puddled into the cake almost before we got it to the table. Not a good look -- but at least we have whole year to consider some other cake-top concepts before the next big birthday party.