DEAR ABBY: I will be 50 next year. My daughter is determined to throw me a party, but I'm not interested in acknowledging my age. In fact, thinking about it throws me into a panic.
I realize this is my problem, but how can I make her understand that this is something I truly do not want and I won't attend? She thinks I'm joking. -- 49 AND HOLDING
DEAR HOLDING: Your daughter is well-meaning but insensitive. Because you can't make her comprehend that birthdays have different connotations for different people, and that you prefer to "forget" about this one, plan an enjoyable getaway for yourself the week that yours rolls around and leave town. And every time you feel yourself going into a panic, practice this mantra: 50 is the new 30. Once you make up your mind to accept it, then you -- like so many others -- will believe it and calm down. Aging is normal. It's stress that's the killer.