Turning 40 … my “protest party” planning success!

If you’re like me, and still single at 40, chances are you have a pretty strong independent streak. Maybe, like me, you consider the word “plan” to be just another four-letter one … which is why the idea of having to plan your own birthday celebration can seem as invigorating as hour five of that mandatory 6 hour training module or recertification they made you do for your job. Well, I’m here to say, “Get over it!”

I say this with love, not a “Suck it up, buttercup” slant, because I finally bit the bullet after years of hoping and moping about the birthday events others in my life did or did not plan for or attend, and it turned out to be the best decision ever!

I guess I should preface this with the admission that I drew the short straw when it comes to birthdays even before my solo-hood entered the picture. My birthday comes on the heels of a major holiday, when the weather is always awful, and my friends are always broke, hungover, and partied out. They’ve done their best over the years, but truthfully, as often as not, my birthday party (usually held sometime during the week of my actually “anniversary of birth”) has been an afterthought, poorly attended and comparatively “un-enthusiastically” celebrated, with lots of last minute substitutions, cancellations, and early departures.

After yet another unfulfilling 39th bash last year, with the big 4-0 approaching, and cognizant of the fact that turning an age with a new leading number was likely to make me feel depressed and lonely (if 20 and 30 were any indication), I decided to do something different. I sat down and made a list of everything I wanted that day to be if I could wave a magic wand and have it any way I liked it. I wanted nice/warm weather, an escapist local (summery beach, perhaps?), my closest friends (not a gaggle of acquaintances invited by others), and good food and drink. I also didn’t want to have to put on a brave face on the actual 4-0 day if it all crashed and burned. So I decided, there and then, to hold a “protest party” months before the actual calendar date at the beach (since I couldn’t afford to fly us all to the Caribbean). I sent the invites out incredibly early. I booked a cabin as a rain-day alternative (who couldn’t console themselves with a raging fire and enough wine if it turned out that way). I made it clear in no uncertain terms that THIS was going to be my 40th celebration (I’d be flying to another country on my actual day) and guilt-tripped those important to me into committing.

You know what? Despite my inherent pessimism for the process, it TOTALLY WORKED!! My Un-birthday at a beach in July was everything I’d ever wanted my 40th party (and many before that) to be! Even better, when a major snowstorm shut down all travel on my actual date, months later, I basked in the smug satisfaction that I could both drink wine in my pjs alone at home watching my favourite trash rom-com, and recall with vivid nostalgia the party I’d already had. I’d finally cheated the system!

I didn’t just take lemons and make lemonade, I started a new tradition! If your parties are not working out for you, abandon convention and have protest parties instead. Figure out what it is you want and go for it! You won’t regret it!