Friends and family of course. Homemade donuts and a campfire don’t hurt either.

Living with Amish friends in Lancaster a few years back, we discovered that I and a brother of those friends share the same birthday. I’ve been around ten years longer than he has, however, so we’re not twins.

Yesterday we had a chance to celebrate together again, with kettle cooked sweet potato chips and a mutual carrot cake (decorated with flowers snipped from the garden-the baker was also something of a floral artist). Add about 30 family and friends and you’ve got a festive evening.

The older I get the less I think about birthdays. When you’re a child you can’t wait for the cake and presents. When a teen not having enough birthdays leaves you in limited-privilege limbo. Later some come to dread them. I guess you can dwell on birthdays, the passing of time and all that. At 34 I’m mostly indifferent about the day itself, though glad to be here and for occasions like yesterday.

These ruminations led me to think of my oldest living relative, a 96-year-old great aunt who survived two world wars and a half century of communism. If I ever reach that age, I hope I’m celebrating as she still does-with gusto, a smile on my face and surrounded by people that matter.