Several weeks ago, I received an email from a friend at our synagogue. She was turning 70 years old and had been contemplating what to do to honor this milestone event. She said for several weeks prior to her birthday she’d been “agonizing about how I should mark this signifcant birthday and nothing felt quite right or felt like it would make it any easier to be 70. I was getting depressed about the day.” However, she finally came up with an unusual way that she could honor her friends, celebrate her birthday and also give back to important non-profits doing wonderful work in the world.
Here is part of the note she sent her friends and family:
In a little less than 3 weeks, I will enter my eighth decade. I decided that instead of having a big party since so many of you do not live close, I would prefer to give money to charity. This way I can honor you for being such an important part of my life and for making me feel very blessed to have you in my life.
Thanks again for all you have done to make me who I am and make me feel like a very lucky person.
Much love and gratitude, Joan
She asked her friends for their favorite recommended charities and she began donating to each one to celebrate entering her eighth decade. Was she nervous to share this birthday celebration idea with her friends? As a matter a fact she was, she didn’t want to come off as noble or saintly but rather just wanted to mark the important milestone birthday in a meaningful and significant way. After her friends and family began sending her their recommended non-profits she said she began to get excited about her birthday and had such fun making the list of non-profits where she would be donating. After her birthday, Joan shared the list of more than 50 non-profits with all of her friends and family. She was thrilled at the opportunity to do something to celebrate her birthday that would also have positive ripple effects in the world. Joan remarked when she sent out her email announcing all the different charities she’d given to, “I loved hearing what you felt passionate about and re-connecting to some of you who I had not heard from in a while.” Perhaps the wisdom of turning 70 is that it’s no longer about the material gifts received when we celebrate such a milestone in our lives but rather how we choose to use this kind of an occasion to benefit others by giving in our own unique way. This of course can be even more gratifying.
Wishing you more birthdays that are as impactful and joyous as this one!