Yesterday was an interesting day. As I commented to one young lady I happened to be sitting beside while waiting for the surprise half-century party of a longtime acquaintance of mine who had been the chosen representative of our ABC class, if I needed any reminders that I was getting older, this party certainly gave me more than a few of them. As might be expected from a day in which I had to do a fair amount of standing when my feet were on the mend but still not entirely better, I was in a fair amount of pain and hobbled quite a bit, which reminded me (if any reminder were necessary) that I certainly do not feel very young, the parties I attend seem to be bittersweet for me more than they do for most people. I feel it an obligation to cheer on and encourage others, but I tend to find such parties , whether they be weddings or other celebrations, to be highly bittersweet for myself.
The party itself was certainly entertaining. Most of the people I was around were brethren from Salem, a neighboring congregation to my own but one where I seldom get the chance to visit unless one of the following circumstances happens: I am invited to a wedding or some other party/event, or I am singing. In this case it was the former, and next Sabbath (God willing, of course) it will be the latter. Although I do not know many of the brethren from Salem particularly well I was able to chat with them at some length, especially as I was disinclined to get up from my seat unless it was absolutely necessary, something that tends to happen when one’s feet are not doing so well. When company is pleasant, it is not so much of a burden to bear. It was nice to see some people I didn’t know very well among the birthday guests who were a part of the family of the person we were celebrating, who seemed to take everything in stride in his fairly typical phlegmatic and easygoing fashion.
I must admit I was surprised at how calm he was about reaching fifty years of the age, especially considering he has a fairly young family and a wife who is around my age. Being a much more melancholic person myself, I noted the scene with a fair amount of bittersweetness. Most of the people there came with their wives and children or their plus ones, and I had to remind at least one person that I came alone. Most of the people there wore various plaid patterned shirts, and though there were quite a few people at the party I did not see any repeats among the patterns. Somehow we all ended up with different plaid patterns, which befits a celebration for a person who is proud of his Scottish ancestry. We even had a pleasant bagpiper come who had played for more than thirty years and deafened our ears with the melancholy strains of that noble but often-maligned instrument. Of course, as a person well-acquainted with the haunting strains of Scottish history and more than a little bit acquainted with melancholy, I tend to see it wherever I am, not that it is a difficult task.
Although I had never been to the place where the party was hosted–and consider myself a particularly unlikely person to be invited often–it was a pleasant place for such a party to be held. The house is large, the hosting family was gracious and friendly, and there was a great view of several mountains I could have seen had it been daylight. There was a lot of room for cars to be parked along the gravel driveway as well as close to the house. When I found a comfortable place to sit after standing as much as I was able, I was able to notice with approval that there were several smallish but lovely paintings showing a variety of Oregonian scenes by the eldest daughter of the household, most of them signed–one with her first name, and a few others with her first initial and the first two letters of her last name. Throughout the evening I was able to see a lot of young faces overwhelmed with the mass of big people, and by the end one adorable little child seemed particularly intent on collecting all of the balloons that she could find, a task which I graciously helped out with. I cannot imagine having a big party thrown for any birthday of mine, nor can I imagine feeling pleased about reaching a half century unless the next years of my life offer something a lot more pleasant and enjoyable than I have found so far.
 See, for example: