59 Candles

I hate my birthday. Actually, it’s not so much my birthday – as a child, I loved the attention and getting presents – it’s the month that my birthday falls in that I dislike.

Growing up, I was always so envious of my friends who had birthdays in late spring and summer. They got to have beach parties, and pool parties, and parties in the park. Because my birthday is in January, my parties always had to be held indoors. It was cold outside and sometimes wet; not exactly party weather.

Not only is my birthday in what is often the coldest month of the year, it is in early January… just days after the holidays. I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard a version of this joyful birthday greeting: “Oh great, it’s your birthday. Jeez, we just had Christmas and now I have to think about your birthday?” Um, sorry?

Fortunately, my parents always made a big deal about my birthday, just as they did for my two brothers. I never had to open a combined Merry Christmas/Happy Birthday gift or was made to feel that the timing of my birthday was inconvenient (after all, it was kind of their fault, right?). In fact, it was the year they forgot my birthday that I knew something was terribly wrong and my brothers and I needed to step in and become their vigilant care givers.

In just a few days, I will enter the final year of my fifties. The year I turned 29, 39, and even 49, didn’t have much significance for me. Those 365 days ticking down to my next decade didn’t seem like they were leading to anything terribly transformative. For some reason, 59 feels different.

According to several dictionaries, “middle age” is considered to span between the ages of 40 and 60. Before turning 40, a person is considered to be a “young adult.” Once that person turns 60, according to the definition, he or she has now reached “old age.” OLD AGE?? I can’t speak for everyone in my age range, but I certainly don’t feel like I’m just one short year away from being of “old age.” I have a lot of friends who are several – some who are many – years older than I am and I don’t consider them to be of “old age” either.  Some are still working and some are retired. They travel, they volunteer, they are involved with their families, friends, and their community.

I wonder if we need to create another definition for the years after 60. I’m not in denial that, at some point in the future, “old” will be an apt description of my age, but it sure isn’t what I’d define myself as being now, or a year from now, or, I hope, for many years to come.

Over the next 365 days, I might put some thought into coining a new phrase to describe the years following my 60th birthday. Even better, I think I’ll just continue to be active, engaged, creative, and connected, and let my reality define my age.

Author: Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged.com

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

19 thoughts on “59 Candles”

  1. You are like Janus who can look back and forward, a key talent. Middle age is defined as fifteen years older than you are at any moment – it is all perspective. So, keep your zest for life and let your hair down. Happy birthday.

    1. I’m guessing that the person who wrote that definition of “old age” was younger than 30. I don’t know anyone in their 50s or 60s… and many into their 70s and 80s who’d consider themselves “old.” Thank you for the birthday wishes!

  2. I too have a January birthday so I can commiserate with you on that. Here is my take on old age. Old age is always 20 years older than I am. I consider myself middle aged in my mid-60s. Perhaps on the far side of the middle but not anywhere near old age.

    1. 20 years into the future sounds about right to me! I know a couple of women in their 80s that I wouldn’t dream of describing as being of old age. They could run circles around me, then get dressed up to the 9s and go out for the evening.

  3. Hey Janis! Happy Birthday (soon)! You didn’t say EXACTLY what day you turn 59 but trust me–I’m about 7 months ahead of you and I can assure you it will be a fabulous year….especially if you join me in a 59-for-59 challenge! 🙂 I also like the idea of thinking of old as 20 years older than me but it really depends on the person. I know people in their 30s who act (and worse think!) like they are old so it proves that age is really nothin but a number! I hope you have something fun and exotic planned for your birthday and that you’ll let us all know how it went! ~Kathy

  4. Happy Birthday in advance. I turn 59 in April. For the last couple of years, I’ve been telling anyone who asks that I am almost 60 just so I can get used to the idea.

    Isn’t there a saying going around that 60 is the new 40 or some such?

    1. That’s funny that you’ve been telling people in advance. You probably got a lot of compliments on how young you look for “almost 60.” I’m beginning to think that 60 is the new “who cares, let’s do something fun!”

  5. Happy Birthday, Janis! Another thing we have in common – my birthday is mid-January, and I’ve always hated having it so soon after Christmas, New Year’s and in such a drab month.

    I have struggled for a year to think of a term to coin those of us past middle age, but certainly not yet old. The closest I can come is something like ‘autumners’. Mostly because I’ve never felt so alive emotionally and mindfully even while physical features and abilities begin to falter. That is sort of how I think of trees in autumn – the most gloriously alive colors even as they are succumbing to the ravages of winter (or eventual old age, in our case).

    I hope you get (and share) some suggestions or let me know when you think of a fitting term.

    1. I like “autumners” and I agree that it is a beautiful time of year. It still sounds to me like autumners are moving towards the end and I guess I just don’t want to admit that yet, especially since I don’t feel that way. I’ll keep thinking too.

      Happy birthday to you too! We January babies need to stick together!

      1. I’m a little further along than you – 64 – I don’t know if it’s the few extra years or the permanent damage from my bike accident two summers ago, but I do feel … older …. more often than I did at 59 or 60. Maybe you’re early September and I’m mid-September ☺️

  6. Happy birthday, Janis! I have a December birthday and my daughters are late January. We often combine the Christmas and birthday celebrations. My daughters’ b-day parties always had to be indoors (luckily we could combine their party–it was just big!), but often times it would be a dry day, if cold, to still play outside after cake! At least with January being a sort-of depressing month, birthdays give it something to look forward to.

    You can treat 59 like a price break: 60 sounds older, like $9.99 compared to $10.00. The 60+ ers can call themselves the Better Boomers, while the 50s will call themselves the Best Boomers (hee hee).

    I like what Sammy D said about “Autumners”– it fits!!

    1. I always reminded everyone that they could buy my gifts at the after Christmas sales thereby saving themselves a lot of money (or buying me more stuff), but after the holidays, most people were just done. Oh well. Now I just want a card, a nice home-cooked meal, and something yummy for dessert. I’m pretty easy to please and my husband is happy to oblige!

  7. Hello and Happy Birthday! I passed the 60 mark about 15 months ago and I go back and forth on how I feel about it! Generally I feel very good about this being this age, it really is just a number. But sometimes I look in the mirror and am startled by what I see and not in a good way!
    I think every age has it’s pro’s and con’s and most it depends on your attitude. I am grateful for every day this side of heaven but also look forward to seeing heaven sooner rather than later! All part of the journey!
    Happy days!

    1. I am beginning to feel that (at least at my current age) there are definitely more pros than cons. Our health is good, we have many great friends, we are enjoying our retirement, and the future looks pretty positive. I do try to minimize my time in front of the mirror, though, because it just makes me critical of myself. I am what I am and I’m not interested in surgically altering anything. Happy days for sure! Thanks for stopping by!

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