Isn’t it funny, how our perceptions of birthdays change as we get older?
When I was wee, I would be so excited in the run-up to September, my birthday month. (Lyra’s the same now and is counting down the days until March). As a teen I couldn’t wait to turn 16 (sweet sixteen), 17 (and be able to legally drive, which was just silly because I couldn’t afford a car), and 18 (no more getting turned away from pubs!). Talk about wishing my life away!
Similarly, I really looked forward to my 21st birthday. My friend Lucy and I were working in Cornwall at the time, during the university summer break. I can’t remember how I spent the actual day but I’m pretty sure the night ended on the sticky, smoky dance floor of the Newquay Walkabout, and I do remember a beautiful silver bracelet Lucy gave me, which probably cost her a couple of days’ wages from the tearoom she worked at.
However, fast forward nine years and my feelings on the run up to my next big birthday were dramatically different. I dreaded turning thirty. I think this was probably due to the ridiculous goal that I had set myself of being married by the time my thirtieth rolled around. And because Rich and I weren’t married, or even engaged, I couldn’t help feeling like a bit of a failure.
(I know it was a ridiculous goal because after all, your birthday is just another day, and age ain’t nothing but a number, and all that. Rich and I still aren’t married now and I am sure we are none the unhappier for it. Although I will be miffed if we’re still not wed by the time I’m forty.)
Even though I had failed to meet The Ridiculous Goal by the time I turned 30, I still managed to have a brilliant boozy time celebrating with my nearest and dearest.
Which brings me on to what was supposed to be the main subject of this post, my auntie’s 70th birthday. She’s faced a lot of sadness in her life so her son – my cousin – decided it was high time she was spoilt rotten. She’s an art lover, and had never visited Paris. So for the weekend following her birthday in early December he arranged a surprise trip for her. His itinerary was so well thought out that I’ve included it below. If you’re planning on surprising someone who has a big upcoming birthday in 2018 maybe it’ll give you a bit of inspiration.
Friday – Eurostar from St Pancras to Paris, champagne lunch no less. Check into an appartement in the 1ere arrondissement. Evening meal on the bank of the Seine.
Saturday – A day in the Musée d’Orsay, then dinner on the Eiffel Tower. (This is where we came in: Rich, my brother and I met them at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower. My auntie had no idea we were going to be there so her face was a picture!).
Sunday – The morning in the Musée de l’Orangerie which holds Monet’s ‘Water Lilies’ paintings. Then to Montmartre in the evening to see the Sacré-Cœur lit up and the Eiffel Tower light show. A walk through Place du Tertre and to Renoir’s studio to see where all the Impressionists lived, met, drank and worked.
My auntie declared it the best birthday ever. Which is pretty good going considering she’s had seventy.
Have you or any of your loved ones got big birthdays coming up in 2018? I’d love to hear about your plans.