Listening to the speeches at a relative’s 60th birthday party with my too-tired son resting on my lap was as good a chance as any to take stock of how my life is going, and what might need changing.
One speech – by a lifelong friend – talked about how they had met, decades ago – and the time and adventures of those golden years of youth.
Three other friends gave a combined speech – the recurring time invested in spending a weekend or more together with the old crowd keeps the old stories alive; there’s a clear difference between time spent with one friend and time in a group, but both, clearly, are important.
A combined speech from the kids, telling a mix of the funny “dad stories”, and the heartfelt tribute to their dad’s work ethic, and the quality time spent together. At sixty, the grunting resentment of adolescent children gives way and the power of speech returns.
And behind the scenes, the faithful wife. Shy of the limelight, not wanting to give a speech herself, but glad to celebrate the occasion and show hospitality (and great catering) to the gathered friends and family.
What lessons are there? What speeches would I want to hear at my sixtieth birthday (still more than two decades hence)?
It’s an encouragement to press on with the balancing act: working hard on things that make the world better somehow, learning new things, writing and teaching people what I can, being the best husband, father, friend I can be.
One aspect missing from that night’s speeches that I’d like to see in the speeches at my sixtieth – the spiritual side of life. It’s a big time investment, but being regular at church attendance, and in talking to people about Jesus in a loving, listening way is that extra puzzle piece I’d like to see.
What would you like to hear in the birthday speeches for your 60th?