My 83rd happy birthday

Photo of a blue jug with a bouquet of scarlet and yellow flowers. Beside it on a table is a Minnie Mouse phone mount, and in the background, a chair with a soft toy and a backscratcher tied to the back.
These are the flowers that shrieked “Happy birthday!” at me

Today is my 83rd birthday and it has been boring on the outside, happy on the inside.

For various reasons, I couldn’t plan much. (Guests were going to arrive for my AirBnB suite, and I couldn’t be sure exactly when.)

And yet I’ve had a gorgeous day.

It starts well: I wake up. Yay!

First a trip to the supermarket: guests mean the fridge needs topping up with fruit for breakfast. I strike a particularly delightful checkout clerk who is talking cricket to the customer in front of me. I tell her, “It’s my birthday” — because basically I tell everyone I meet on my birthday that it is my birthday. Because otherwise, what a waste of a birthday. She says, “As long as you’ve got friends and family, that’s all that matters.” How right she is! And she is sorely tempted to hug me, so we do a virtual hug across the counter.

I’m about to leave the supermarket when I hear a squeaky voice yelling out, “Happy birthday! Here I am! Get me, get me!” and I realise it’s coming from a dazzling bunch of yellow and scarlet flowers. Birthday flowers if ever there were any. So I take it to the counter and I say to the man in front of me, “It’s my birthday. Would you please give me this bunch of flowers?” He plays along beautifully. “Happy birthday!” he says. And handed me the flowers with due ceremony. He says, “I’m a colour person myself,” and showed his bright green jacket and red backpack and shirt.

Then I pay for the flowers and go to an 8:30am business* meeting in a cafe close by. (*The business is inevitably admin stuff about fund-raising for my new play, The Secret Lives of Extremely Old People.)

I arrive a little early for the meeting. Before my friend arrives I manage to tell two other people that it’s my birthday and they wish me a happy birthday.

The meeting goes very well. Efficient, very useful, and friendly. And of course I get another “happy birthday!”

So the day goes. I get a Happy Birthday from four friends I meet on the street as I walk to a date with my daughter (and yummy yummy cakes and coffee at Myrtle cafe), from both shops where I choose to make a couple of birthday purchases, from my two AirBnB guests, from multiple family members on multiple devices (even actual conversations on the phone, some of them simultaneous), from multiple lovely friends on Facebook, and — I’ve lost count. Maybe altogether I’ve received 83 happy birthdays? I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

What I bought myself on my birthday

brown cat contemplating a pocket transistor radio and two lipsticks
Two other self-birthday gifts: a pocket transistor radio (for disasters) and two lipsticks

So yes, I’ve had a lovely 83rd birthday, thank you very much! Boring on the outside, happy on the inside.

A video of me saying exactly the same thing

My 83rd birthday: boring on the outside, happy on the inside

PS In the video, for a few seconds you can see a pile of dirty laundry in the background. That’s because my washing machine broke last week and won’t be fixed for four more days. I’m looking forward to that.

After birthday, birthdusk

How little it takes to make me happy at this age! I didn’t bungee jump or run a marathon. I didn’t have a big party, just a wee party of two. I didn’t receive a Damehood (?) or a certificate of health. No bands, not even any dancing (maybe I’ll dance a little bit right now). But I’m very happy with the rush of “Happy birthday!” messages and hugs and everyday blessings. It’s a solid happiness based in normality. And in awareness of my privilege, when so many are suffering right now.

Next I’m going to watch on Netflix “The Story of My Family”, which also makes me happy. It’s a Japanese family drama featuring a pro-wrestler who is also the reluctant head of a Noh theatre family business. So many reasons to love it 🙂

Good night and thank you, everyone in my life. It’s a funny little life, but I love it.

Photo of a sunset sky with grey clouds and deep blue above
After the 83rd birthday, the birthdusk
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67 thoughts on “My 83rd happy birthday

  1. Beth A Rubin says:

    Well happy birthday! You are such a role model 🥰

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Well I didnt go bungee jumping or run a marathon. I realise once again that i do love my funny little life 🙂

  2. Sadje says:

    A very happy birthday dear Rachel

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thank you so much!

  3. Sheree says:

    Many congratulations

  4. Lois Roelofs says:

    Way to go! Happy birthday! I tell everyone I’m 81 too. I’m happy to be alive as well.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Ah, this happiness comes to us even before we are 90.

  5. realruth says:

    I love the idea of telling everyone it’s your birthday. I could do that when I’m 80 – or maybe even sooner. Happy birthday, Rachel.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Any birthday! After all, kids do it.

  6. Happy Birthday Rachel!

  7. Mick Canning says:

    Well, Happy Birthday, Rachel. I’m glad it was a good one.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thanks, Mick.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Delightful prose and delightfuller uplifting video. Good wishes from me, too

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thank you, not-so-anonymous Derrick

  9. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous is Derrick

  10. rhinophile says:

    Your happy day has put a big smile on my face. Thanks for sharing and reminding us it’s okay to skite! (I don’t get to use that word very often!)

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Yes let us non-skiting Antipodeans skite more often!

  11. “A solid happiness based in normality.” That is a perfect way to put it. Happy Birthday!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I can see now that this was a pause-and-reflect birthday.

  12. srbottch says:

    Happy Birthday, Rachel! Remember, everything good that happens in the world on your birthday is in celebration of you 😋

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Wow, that I did not know. Hmm.

      1. srbottch says:

        Oh, yes, and I even wrote about it a few years ago, so you can believe it…

      2. Rachel McAlpine says:

        Very cool!

  13. Dan Antion says:

    Happy Birthday Rachel! Good luck with the play.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thanks, Dan

  14. josaiawrites says:

    Wishing you a delightful happy birthday. I feel as if we’ve met in person by watching your wonderful video. Your spirit is light and loving and just what I needed this morning. So, on your birthday, you have given me a gift! Sending a hug all the way from California. Happy birthday! 💐🎂

  15. Happy birthday! I take great pleasure in the small boring stuff too. My favorite birthday is doing what I feel like in the moment without restrictions! Yay!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Isn’t that strange, Kate? But perfect.

  16. Yessss! Happy Dance in honor of your Happy Birthday! I hope that business meeting yielded great future prospects for funding of your new play.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Maybe you did a happy dance too? Thanks Laura.

      1. Of course!

  17. Paul says:

    A variation on the theme : Hari huritau, Rachel.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:


    2. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Oh yes, I’ll certainly take that, thanks Paul.

  18. DAP says:

    Happy Birthday! <3

  19. judibwriting says:

    I lived in a community with Dutch friends for a while and they had a gusty birthday song- “Lang zullen ze leven in da gloria-(live long in da gloria)- sung three times with a rousing hip hip hurrah (three times) at the end. I send that to you. love the birthdusk photo !

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Excellent! All sing to the glory of glorious me! Except, oops, that was yesterday. But no, in the USA it is still my birthday. Oh the glory of globalisation and the web.

  20. Waking up is always a perfect start to a day, but especially a birthday. Happy Birthday Rachel. I love the flowers!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      You get it, for sure. Thank you.


  22. Beautiful. I’m glad your birthday was so lovely 🙂

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thank you.

  23. Happy. Birthday! I think it is wonderful that you tell everyone… why not?

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Exactly. It’s your day. If you’ve got it, flaunt it!

  24. Happy, happy birthday! You had a marvelous celebration. Thank you for sharing it with all of us.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      And you just added to the marvel of it.

  25. alison41 says:

    and here’s another HAPPY BIRTHDAY! and many more to come. Did Ursula sing Happy B D to you? if not,
    remind her yours is the hand that operates the tin-opener …

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Haha! Ursula thinks she owns every day of the year.

  26. Rebecca Budd says:

    Happy Birthday, Rachel! Your spark and joy came through the WI-FI! LOVED your video!!!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Oh thanks, Rebecca. I plan to start making videos again: it has been a while.

      1. Rebecca Budd says:

        This is WONDERFUL news!

  27. Elizabeth says:

    A very merry birthday to you. Like you I shamelessly announce it is my birthday when it is. I am even tempted to announce my “unbirthday” now and then!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      That’s a great old song, isn’t it? I mangled it recently when my little sister had an 80th unbirthday party.

  28. Wow, Happy Birthday! 🎁

  29. Oh I love your attitude dear Rachel. What a fab moment for the man who was asked to give you the bright coloured flowers. Lucky man. I’ve already wished you a happy birthday but to see you in that gorgeous blue on the video is a treat. I nicked these flowers off the internet just for you

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Stripey roses? Green roses? That is OTT!

  30. Ingrid Petty says:

    I love that you’ve written a play with such an intriguing title! Best wishes for terrific success! And happy bithday!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thank you, Ingrid. I will carry that thought with me.

  31. LA says:

    Happy birthday!

  32. It sounds like a wonderful birthday, Rachel! Let me add to the many good wishes. May the coming year surpass your fondest hopes … but still leave plenty to be desired.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      What a brilliant birthday wish. Yes — bring me challenges as well as chocolates!

  33. Mr. Wapojif says:

    Happy birthday! Hope you drank tea and enjoyed. A cat is like a birthday present everyday, really, but also bonus on the radio majigger.

  34. Happy birthday! I love your energy and positivity.

  35. I send you belated happy birthday wishes.

  36. Suzanne says:

    Happy Belated Birthday, Rachel. “It starts well: I wake up.” now that made me laugh aloud. Not sure how I missed this uplifting post.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Fortunately, birthdays tend to carry on for a month or two.

      1. Suzanne says:

        Lucky you.

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