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{24/07/2012}   Celebrating landmark birthdays

I have recently been to a 40th birthday party and this has made me get strangely excited about the prospect of my next landmark birthday in a few years, namely my 40th, and how I’d want to celebrate it.  In fact, why I’d want to celebrate it.

The 40th I went to was a lovely evening, well organised and with lots of attention to detail, including photos of the newly 40 year old at various stages of his life.  There were good canapés, a bar (obviously!) and a disco.  The venue was a part of a former country estate, now conference/venue hire.  There were loads of family and friends there and it was very much a child-friendly place, despite at least one trip to A&E!  I felt it was a good reflection of the birthday boy and it was a really enjoyable, sociable and unregimented celebration.

I know a lot of people don’t celebrate their birthdays particularly, not even for landmark birthdays, and I do understand that.  I, however, enjoy birthday celebrations once I get past the no one-is-going-to-turn-up panic and the social stress of being the centre of attention/host!

I had a fantastic 30th birthday and in fact had a whole host of celebrations, from a few quiet meals out to a 3rd birthday party and treasure hunt and a long weekend with friends in Riga.  30th was the first big event since 21 and at 21 all I really cared about was going out and getting drunk for my birthday.  At 30, having formed long and lasting friendships by that age, my friends and I gave each other significant and often decadent birthday presents (first landmark birthday where we all had salaries) and it was a novelty to have a big party.

At 40, there is a widespread belief all your friends of a similar age will have more money (I don’t remember any 30th birthdays where the birthday girl or boy paid for everyone’s food and venue hire) and social events will be different, namely because so many people will have children, be in couples and potentially more flush.  So when friends my age start having 40th birthdays, I realise they will be very different to 30th birthdays.  Likewise, all our remaining landmark birthdays.

I find the concept of your landmark birthdays being celebrated in a way that reflects your life at that moment fascinating and it makes how you celebrate your birthday both a pressure/burden and a joy.  In my early 20s I was adamant – really, truly adamant – that I would be retired by 40.  On that basis, I am thinking about paying for all my friends to join me on an exclusive island somewhere in the Caribbean for a week of eating, drinking and general decadence!

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