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  • Writer's pictureJane Leder

Celebrating A Big B'day During The Pandemic

Well, let's say the celebration was not the big bash I'd planned. Seventy-five is a milestone. I'm still standing and doing quite well, thank you. I'd wanted to throw a fiesta to match--no, exceed--my fiftieth and sixtieth. (I'm not sure what happened on my 70th. I was contemplating the beginning of Act III and probably let the day go by with a few cards and dinner with my husband and son.)

But the Pandemic put the kibosh on my 75th.

Sure, I know that there are many more important events that have had to be canceled, the most devastating of which is the funeral of someone who has died from the virus. Add to that a wedding or taking the law boards or 50th wedding anniversary, and my birthday pales in comparison.

Still, I was disappointed. I'd taken my husband to New York City for his 75th and figured I deserved some kind of celebration.

That was not to be.

So, I came up with the brainy idea of inviting two couples on two separate nights. That meant two birthday cakes, at least two times the rounds of drinks, and three sets of two chairs close enough for couples but far enough from others to maintain the prerequisite six feet apart.

I marched out to the backyard patio with my handy dandy tape measurer, stretched the tape to six feet. The boxwoods and mini barberries surrounding the patio were the lines of demarcation. But the back legs of two of the Adirondack chairs ended up an inch from the bushes. I'd have to post a warning.

Okay, so the seating challenge was met. But what to do about serving drinks and birthday cake without touching the guests' glasses and plates? I donned plastic gloves, separated the plastic cups and plates (My apologies to the whales and other sea creatures), and put them on the table where guests could pick up their own utensils. There was plenty of hand sanitizer just in case.

Instead of the music I'd been downloading for over a year, we listened to piano jazz. Well, okay, not a bad alternative but not the boogie on down jams I'd hoped would get folks up on the stone patio, the unofficial dance floor. Maybe next year.

Turning seventy-five is a time to consider the traits you covet and those you would like to change. Given the ticking clock, time is of the essence.

"I know I can be impatient and judgmental," I began.

My best friend nodded in agreement.


"On the other hand, I'm a good listener, a good friend, and empathic, particularly with people who have gotten an unfair shake in life."

Again, my friend nodded.

I turned to her. "So, what are your good and your bad traits? What do you hope to change before we hang it up?"

"Well," she said, "I think I'm fabulous", or something to that effect."

Self-image has never been her problem.

I giggled.

"Okay. What about what you'd like to change?"

"Well, I expect other people to meet my standards, and my standards are high. And when they disappoint me, I either try to mold them in my image or kick them to the curb." (She didn't say "kick them to the curb," but I thought it might make her and the rest of us seem more in touch--younger.)

"I guess that's being judgmental."

And so it went. The others talked about loyalty and perseverance and creativity. And they ticked off anger, laziness, and procrastination. It was fascinating and a hell of a lot more interesting than dancing on the bluestone patio.

The lesson for me is clear: don't prejudge whether or not a party (or any event, for that matter) will be a success. Don't assume that celebrating a birthday during the Pandemic can't possibly be as much fun as a big bash when things get back to "normal."

Sometimes, getting together with a small group of friends can make for one of the best birthdays ever.


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