TV chef Nigella Lawson says she felt grateful reach the milestone of her 60th birthday in January, because so many of her loved ones died so young.
Nigella was married to the late journalist John Diamond, who died from cancer aged 47, and also lost her mum and sister to the disease at young ages.
As a result, Nigella says she did not make any plans to mark her 60th birthday.
“I’m not a planner – apart from when it comes to food!” she tells Good Housekeeping.
“But to be completely honest, I’ve never been able to take for granted that I’d be alive by this age.
“My mother died at 48 and my sister at 32. And then John at 47. So, even if I were the sort of person who planned ahead, I don’t think I would have seen myself here….”
Nigella’s sister Thomasina died from breast cancer in 1993. Her mum Vanessa passed away in 1985 from liver cancer, when Nigella was just 25.
The chef admits her grateful attitude to living has relaxed her approach to ageing.
“I kind of think you can’t do anything about it so why complain?” she says.
“I also know what the alternative is, so it feels wrong when you’ve been surrounded by people who have died young to say ‘My hair’s awful, I’ve got to get my roots done’ or ‘My hands look like lizards’. So I don’t dwell on it.
“As long as you’re healthy, that really is the most important thing.”
John chronicled his treatment in newspaper columns after first writing about discovering a lump in his neck.
The couple’s two children, Cosima, 26, and Bruno, 24, celebrated Nigella’s birthday with a lunch date.
Nigella has previously said she found surpassing her mum’s final age to be the most challenging.
“In truth, the hardest birthday I have ever gone through was my 49th,” she has said.
Speaking previously about turning 50, she said: “I think I was rather relieved no longer to be 49, that year that made me a traitor to my mother.”
Nigella says offering advice to her social media followers about their dinner plans during lockdown gave her fulfilment during lockdown.
“I feel like myself when I’m cooking and writing,” she says. “And I feel very lucky for the connection it gives me to other people.
“That came to the fore during lockdown, when I started helping people with their evening meals on Twitter. It was odd because I was living remotely, but feeling much more connected.”
Nigella also spoke about her festive plans, which she said included “being with my children, a lot of cooking, a lot of eating and lots of lying about”.
“I love watching films with them and I enjoy not having things in the timetable,” she tells the magazine.
“I’m also a bit clichéd and like having the fire burning and lots of tealights and fairy lights. It’s about turning my home into this cocooning, magical place where it feels a bit different from the rest of the year.”
- The December issue of Good Housekeeping is on sale today.