Celebrating an 80th birthday

Photo of 6 girls aged 3–11 in plaits, slacks and hand-knitted jerseys in a rough garden

Me and my 5 sisters. I’m the third sister to be celebrating an 80th birthday.

Turning 80: quite a landmark birthday, I reckon. Mine happens in four days, on the 24th February.

I’ve always liked my birth date because of a story my mother told me. She was worried I’d be born on 29th February, the extra day in a leap year. She felt that would be unfair, because I would have a birthday only once every four years. So she did her best to hasten my arrival by walking up and down the vicarage hallway, holding on to her ankles. Imagine…

Who knows whether her contortions made a difference, but I was a breech birth (bottom first) and rather small at (I think) 5 lb 6 oz. Every years since then I have had my very own birthday, and I do appreciate my mother’s contribution to this privilege.

Every birthday is a privilege, never more so than in old age

A friend told me she had declared a Jubilee Year, as for a queen, and so had been celebrating her 80th birthday all year long. Great idea. She added, “It helps to make up forβ€”” I spotted a sad little phrase like “being so old” perched on her tongue so I interrupted saying: “β€”for being alive?”

We agreed that being alive is a very fine thing indeed.

This year, first up, I have a mystery sistery celebration. I’m not comfortable with big parties, so my five sisters have arranged a very long weekend’s fun for just us (and maybe other family members).

I’ve been told, “There will be walking but no tramping.” I’ll take my walking shoes and sunhat and swimming togs but I have no idea how we’ll spend those days. Perfect. I can’t stop smiling.

And 2020 looks like being a jubilee year for me. In April my children have arranged for us to walk the beautiful Abel Tasman Track and have a weekend at Kaiteriteri, surely one of the most perfect beaches in the world. Other little mini-events are sneaking in. What’s more, I shall choose to believe that every event this year is in honour of my continued existence, alive at 80 and beyond. Let the wild rumpus start!

If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

Rachel McAlpine with ivy crown wrapped in a sheet

Celebrating an 80th birthday: crowned philosopher-queen for a day.



70 thoughts on “Celebrating an 80th birthday

  1. Anonymous says:

    Happy the 80th Birthday πŸ’πŸŽ‚πŸΉπŸŽπŸŽŠ πŸŽ‰πŸŽˆ

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, my name was missing from the Birthday -wishes. Something wrong with WordPress -pages (?) I am Anaelle Amaya.

  3. Anonymous says:

    My name was missing from the Birthday -greetings, I am Anaelle Amaya πŸ™‚

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thank you for explaining who you are and for sending birthday wishes. It’s a puzzle: your name shows when Like a post, but not when you comment. Another WordPress mystery!

  4. What a fabulous photo of you and your 5 sisters! You are such an inspiration and I know you will have the most amazing birthday as you sure know how to appreciate life. Sending you the warmest birthday wishes and hope to raise a glass with you before too long in honour of your special birthday… for surely one can say 80 is rather splendid. Love the photo. XXX

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:


  5. Hope your year is as fabulous as you are. Such a great role model for those of us travelling behind you. xx

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I too have my role models, belive me.

      1. Ursula included!

  6. cedar51 says:

    Happy All Year Ahead Birthday…sounds like you’ve going to have some fun times … enjoy

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thank you

  7. How lucky you are to be celebrating your Jubilee Year with all of your beautiful sisters. The picture of you with your crown of ivy is gorgeous! Have fun on your mystery celebration!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      You’re right, I’m lucky lucky lucky πŸ™‚

  8. Happy birthday! You look wonderful. Five sisters! Lucky you.

  9. Have a wonderful birthday year.

  10. joared says:

    Congratulations on your 80th! I celebrated mine a few years ago with my children and their families as only a few living family members left — likewise friends. Returning home I took a side-trip flight to visit with college friends I hadn’t seen in decades. Treasure all as we never know what tomorrow brings.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      A wise approach. I shall do as you say.

  11. Trev Jones says:

    Happy birthday and may you have a wonderful year ahead. How fantastic to have 5 sisters too.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Lucky me!

  12. myrak says:

    Happy Happy Birthday dear Rachel…so glad I know you….you are an inspiration and I love your joy. Much Love, Myraxxhugxx

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Hugs to you dear Myra! I feel like a fraud, jumping the gun by 4 days– jubilee year is days from starting. (should have scheduled this for Monday.)

  13. Cathy Cade says:

    Have a great decade!
    My youngest daughter was also due at the end of February in a leap year. she decided not to risk it. She arrived exactly two months early, to the day – 29th December.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Oh no– that was extreme haste! And thank you, I shall do my very best.

  14. Ally Bean says:

    Happy Birthday. Your crown is delightful as is your point of view about getting older. Carry on, my friend.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Oh thank you. So happy to know you and yes, as a friend.

  15. LA says:

    Happy birthday!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thank you. It’s all good.

  16. Sadje says:

    A very happy birthday Rachel. Looking lovely!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Haha, in my sheet and the neighbour’s hedge.

      1. Sadje says:

        Working very well. πŸ‘Œ

  17. Dan Antion says:

    Happy Birthday, Rachel. Enjoy the entire year!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      That’s the plan– starting early, too.

  18. Happiest of birthdays to you and many more!

  19. May you have a joyous birthday and a happy, healthy year ahead Rachel.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thank you Peter.

  20. Suzanne says:

    Happy Birthday Rachel your jubilee celebrations will be lots fun. I remember a friend of my parents say about her husband “It’s the coffin dodgers birthday tomorrow”. 86! The parents spluttered on their morning tea. She was known for her impromptu comments.

    Have a brilliant time πŸŽ‰

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Coffin dodger. I’ll take that one thanks.

      1. Suzanne says:

        She had a good sense of humour πŸ™‚

  21. All sounds wonderful, Rachel! Happy birthday all year long!

  22. JOY journal says:

    Happy birthday!!!

  23. I’m so glad to know how to do the 80th with pizzazz when I reach mine in a year and a half! You are always an inspiration, Rachel, and your plans for your 80th are no less wondrous than you are. Joyous days! And oh, yes, so great to be alive!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I can’t wait to find out where we’re going… Thank you for your support, as always.

  24. Happy 80th Birthday!! πŸŽ‚ πŸŽ‰ 🍰πŸ₯‚

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Oh yes, there will be cake and wine!

  25. Su Leslie says:

    Wishing you a very happy birthday Rachel.

    I think a Jubilee Year sounds like an excellent idea β€” a friend of mine has just done that for her fiftieth, and it was a perfect excuse to do things that were always being put off.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Yes, I’m all for it, starting now

  26. Elizabeth says:

    Happy Happy Birthday. You seem to come from a line of the long lived since all your sisters are still alive. What a blessing.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      That’s true of my generation, Elizabeth. Yay!

  27. Ann Coleman says:

    Happy Birthday! And I love that photo of you and your sisters.

  28. Hi and I hope you have a fabulous birthday! Great photo of you & your sisters 😊

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thank you! We’re (almost) on our way β€” a thrilling part of any adventure.

  29. How utterly magnificent!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I reckon. Adventures, bring ’em on!

  30. hilarymb says:

    Actually Chocolate Squid says it best ‘How utterly magnificent’ … and with his name and your birthday … I really don’t want to spoil my contribution by adding more … here’s to chocolate squids, your five sisters and you, that party, this party, this walk, that potter … and here’s to many more happy days with family and friendly souls. Enjoy the run up to being 80 on the 24th … cheers Hilary

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      What a gorgeous way to imagine the event and the year that follows! It’s morning, we depart in 3 hours.

  31. lorriebowden says:

    My best wishes for a most important birthday! Happy Birthday one day early!! I hope the year ahead is filled with sweet blessings <3

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thank you Lorrie. It sure has started well.

  32. Wendy says:

    Hope you had the happiest of birthdays. Love the sisters photo, did you do an up to date version for your birthday by any chance?

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      We did, Wendy. I’ll post something when I get home πŸ™‚

  33. A belated happy birthday to you. I’m so happy to have found your blog I’m 77, and I don’t know a lot of people who are older than I am. You are an inspiration.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thanks Anne β€” I’m inspired in turn by Doris Carnevali’s blog, Engaging with Aging, and you inspire others in your turn.

      1. I couldn’t find a follow button, and I’m wondering which browser I was using. I’ll have to look again.

      2. Rachel McAlpine says:

        On some blogs you can comment within WordPress Reader, but not on the original website. Why? I have no idea.

      3. Interesting!

  34. mitchteemley says:

    Rock on, Rachel (love the laurel, btw). Here’s to another 80!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Hm, another 80? I’m on to another decade or two.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Looking forward to your next decade reflections. Always so insightful Rachel. 80 is the new 60!

  36. Belated happy birthday! Wishing you a vibrant, blessed and enjoyable year.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thank you. 2020 is off to a good start.

      1. πŸ™‚

%d bloggers like this: