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I wanted to celebrate my 70th birthday, but took time to decide just how.  For my 50th I’d had a big party, someone to speak about each decade, an Irish band, and dancing.  My 60th was smaller, a garden party with 20 people who each brought something to add to a garden collage.  When I was a child, birthday parties were often small because so many families were away on holiday, but I’ve always wanted to celebrate on The Day, even though the fact it’s a public holiday can bring challenges.  The only time I’ve celebrated on a different day was for my 21st, and that was because we were travelling to another city for a wedding on New Year’s Day.  Prior to The Earthquake my birthday was often marked with dinner at the Octagon, an inner city restaurant that was open when many others were closed, and had live music.  Although that historic building is being repaired it has no tenant yet.  I hope it may be the venue for a future birthday dinner.

For this year’s significant birthday I invited a selection of women friends, and fourteen of us gathered on the back patio on a very warm summer’s day.  Although the walnut tree provided shade to most, a few on the western side needed the protection of umbrellas.

Some needed sunshades

With the temperature over 30 degrees we started with cold drinks and were glad of the breeze, although the fact the wind was nor-west meant planes occasionally flew noisily overhead.  I’d asked people not to bring gifts, but there were some, as well as a number of beautiful cards with wonderfully thoughtful messages written on them.  Several women brought me bunches of flowers from their gardens.

Cards and Flowers

I welcomed everyone, acknowledging three good friends who’d been present at my 60th and had since died, and mentioned my daughters fast asleep in England.  To cast the circle I asked everyone to share when and where they’d met me, which produced warm memories.  There were three things I’d asked everyone to think about beforehand:

  • Something you’ve done that you’re proud of
  • One thing you do to stay well, physically or mentally
  • A hope for 2019

In sharing these we learned about each other’s life journey, and we finished by singing ‘Never Turning Back‘ which we’d also sung at my 50th.  It was time for afternoon tea.  Stephen managed to light the birthday cake candles, but some had succumbed to the wind before I could blow them out.

Cutting the cake

I was pleased that people stayed and socialised, moving chairs further back into the garden where by now there was more shade.  This was an immensely satisfying way to mark my 70th birthday.  I wonder what I’ll do for my 80th?

That evening I received an email from Charities Services reminding me that the financial year for an organisation I’m the Treasurer of ended two days ago and I need to start preparing the financial accounts.  They might have waited until after my birthday!

‘A decade calls for celebration
and this was an ideal creation.’

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