I passed another milestone last week. I’m now eligible for social security! Even though I plan to wait for eight more years before I draw my benefit, it seems like this day arrived sooner than I could have imagined.
Most of my more recent birthdays haven’t been celebrated with family. February is prime snow skiing season and during the past decade, I’ve usually been on a ski trip somewhere during my birthday week. Our “Chicks On Sticks” group of skiers have traveled to Utah, Colorado, and Montana. Sometimes we stayed closer to home and went to Mission Ridge in Wenatchee, Washington. One year, after an epic day of skiing in a blizzard, one of my best friends rushed home and set up a surprise party in her home. It was a fantastic ending to an amazing day with great friends, but no family.
This year, with skiing disrupted by the pandemic, we planned to stay home. But with the case rates dropping significantly in Washington and Oregon I played the “nana” card and asked for a party with my kids and grandkids. I hadn’t seen my daughter and her family since September and missed them for all of the major holidays this season. They drove their travel trailer up from Oregon and I was thrilled we could all be together at my son’s house.
Even though it was another wet and cold weekend in the Pacific Northwest, that didn’t stop us from having a fun celebration together. All ten of us were together for the first time since I can’t remember when. My grandson also celebrates a birthday three days after mine so we had a joint party.
On Friday night, we shared one of my favorite meals. My daughter-in-law made her lasagna, garlic bread, and caesar salad. I even had a glass of red wine.
For dessert, my daughter baked a cake and brought lots of ideas and decorations. Three of us, my granddaughter and daughter and I, combined our creative forces and decorated a cake with a theme chosen by my grandson. He wanted a snowy mountain with a river on the cake.
She made a chocolate cake that we spread with fluffy white frosting and covered it with coconut to look like snow. With ideas from Pinterest, we made mountain peaks from sugar cones dipped in white chocolate, a river of buttercream frosting dyed two shades of blue, and added some chocolate covered coffee beans as rocks. My daughter even brought little skiers and some trees to add some realism.
On Saturday morning, in spite of the biting cold and rain, we climbed a local mountain in nearby Enumclaw. Mount Peak isn’t the tallest mountain but climbing up the rocky trail got your heart rate going. Some people weren’t happy about hiking in the rain but everyone including the dogs, Sadie and Millie, made it to the top. Usually, there is a view of Mount Rainier from the high point but it was definitely not a clear day. We snapped a quick picture at the top and turned around and came back down in a rainstorm.
It was now my grandson’s turn to have his favorite meal. My son in law made delicious “smash burgers” on the griddle that night. We had all of the fixings for a summer barbecue in the middle of winter.
In the evening, after a hot shower to warm up, we got cozy by the wood fire in our jammies and loungewear. The four cousins played video games in the family room and the six adults played a board game around the kitchen table. We laughed until we couldn’t stay awake.
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate turning 62 during the winter of 2021. Retirement and the beginning of spring are in about six weeks. I’m excited to see what the rest of this year brings!
Barbara is the new star of the Rock Your Retirement show! For one year, she'll let Kathe Kline tag along as she goes through her retirement journey.