Tonight we attended a Winter Solstice celebration. I was the youngest one there. Our hosts made lamb stew and cornbread, offered tours of their amazing home and let us sit quietly as the bonfire was lit and glasses were raised in toast to those who were not in attendance this year. Our host has lost two friends this year—one just a few weeks back. One gentleman had buried his wife recently. The couple to my right talked to their friends about the recovery from his recent heart attack and heart surgery. One couple both walk with canes, and the wife has a pretty hard time getting around without assistance. They helped each other, and so did everyone else.

Don't get me wrong— I know I have made it sound like a rather somber affair, but it was exactly the opposite. There was so much laughter and good conversation. Our host, who is quite proud of his fire-making abilities, explained to everyone how he had built up the wood into a stovepipe, and he clapped his hands in delight when the fire began to "sing". I heard stories of grandkids and gardens, holiday plans and food. A lot of people did not know one another, but there were no awkward silences. No one felt excluded from conversation, and I bet no one left regretting having spent their evening with this particular group of people.

I left feeling a little guilty for complaining about turning 40 next month, but most of all I left with a little bit of excitement for all the years after 40. This doesn't mean the idea of my next birthday doesn't still give me a twinge of dread, but it does seem a little less scary.