The big ?-0

Turning 40 is a big deal. A transition from the young’ish, hip-sounding 30s to the decidedly middle-aged-sounding 40s. There is a lot one has to think through and adjust to when it’s your 40th birthday.

Or…I imagine that’s the case? For the life of me, I could not remember my 40th birthday, which was a decade ago, today (mental math! fast! how old am I turning today?). Jonathan and I racked our brains yesterday about what I might have done for my 40th until he finally said, “I don’t know: Simon was 6, Lucy was 3, I’m thinking we were still in survival mode?”

Note: I related all this to my parents during my birthday call today and my Mom, with her amazing memory said, “Didn’t you and Jonathan go for a night on the town in Chicago? To that fancy restaurant and hotel?” Ah ha! The penny dropped! We did do that! Thank heavens for my mother’s memory, I would be lost without it.

All this past year since my last birthday it felt like a lot of pressure to figure out how to celebrate my 50th (the halfway mark!) in just the right way. The difficulty is I have always been party-phobic so the natural solution is not the obvious one for me.

Along came the pandemic and so, of course, any party was off the table. But what the pandemic did precipitate is a move for our family (temporarily) from Palo Alto to Mendocino. A sabbatical of sorts.

(Very brief digression here: our move happened in late August when the wildfires were threatening the Bay Area. We packed everyone – kids, dog, two cats, five chickens, tons of stuff – in the Prius and set off. The chickens, it turned out, were outstanding travelers. The kids and I shoved them into cardboard boxes and they traveled without a peep for the 4 hour trip. There were sliding and bumping noises in the boxes when I took the curves on 128 too fast, but otherwise, they transitioned from the Bay Area to Mendocino like ducks to water – such good girls).

Back to my birthday. How did I celebrate? First, with a great quantity of baked goods. Here is my daughter with George this morning, as we were enjoying coffee cake muffins by the fire. And after that is a picture of Jonathan and me. (Slight worry here – have we already hit that stage that older couples get to when they dress alike? I guess I’m 50?)

In the gift department, I made out like a bandit. I received a particularly lovely gift from my parents. The picture below is of a set of teacups and saucers that I have admired since I was 5 years old. This set has always lived on a shelf in a glass cabinet in my parents’ house. When I was young – and under supervision – I could look at them and hold them carefully and they always made me dream of royalty and elegant events and beauty beyond compare. I picked up a package yesterday from the Mendocino post office and what should be inside it but…

Totally amazing and gorgeous, right? Thank you so much, Mom and Dad! Wow.

My birthday has also included wine (of course) – shout out to our friends, Darius and Holly, for this particularly lovely bottle of wine (it was delicious!).

My 50th also precipitated a shopping spree with my daughter. We headed to downtown Mendocino and boosted the local economy with frequent recitations of “You only turn 50 once!” True! And such a useful mantra when you’re shopping for your your 50th, it turns out. Here is the stack of gifts, so nicely wrapped by my daughter in Christmas paper, which is the only type we had to hand.

I won’t bore with you with the entire haul, but I have to show you one particular item.

Simon’s comment: “Nothing says you’re turning 50 like slippers with chickens on them…”

Here they are. Ok, you wouldn’t have been able to resist either, right?

Totally lovely 50th.

Published by Lianne Kurina

I am an epidemiologist, the proud director of the Program in Human Biology at Stanford University, and a very keen horsewoman.

One thought on “The big ?-0

  1. Those chicken slippers are AMAZING!!! Also I am very impressed with your packing. My husband, toddler and I were up in Mendocino last weekend and I felt like his SUV could barely fit all our stuff. Good job with the traveling animal/human circus!


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