My birthday is in late July. When I was growing up, it was the highlight of my summer. There were no friend parties with elaborate themes. But there was always cake with candles and family singing the birthday song to me. My beloved Aunt Ruby bought me my first store made cake with a doll in the center and the cake decorated as her skirt. My first-grade teacher, Mrs. Sears, honored all her students’ birthdays the same way, including the summer birthdays. We got to stand up front next to her, beaming with pleasure, while Mrs. Sears drew us a birthday cake on the chalk board and we got to choose the colors. By today’s standards these are pretty simple events, but these moments are still clear in my memory today.M
Your birthday is your special day. Perhaps there are sprinkles on your pancakes. Perhaps you take treats to school to share. And perhaps you get to choose what’s for dinner and the flavor of your birthday cake. But when did the birthday party become more important that the child??? I am hardly a minimalist and I love a party favor as much as the next girl, but spa parties for five-year olds or a Harry Potter extravaganza that costs as much as my first car (a 1971 Chevy Vega – big mistake!) make me cringe. (End of grandma rant!)
I delight in my grandchildren’s birthdays. They are milestones for that child and it’s always a joy to reflect on how much they have grown and changed. The purpose of the day should be to make the child feel loved and special.
I am in no way saying a child shouldn’t have a birthday party. Invite their friends over. Blow up some balloons. Play a game or two and fill them up with sugary treats. And then send the friends home.
On Olivia’s eighth birthday, grandpa took everyone out to the restaurant Olivia chose. He called ahead to make sure they would provide exactly what she wanted. Olivia’s mom made her a beautiful cake. She got a few gifts. She giggled, smiled and beamed. Just like I did while standing next to Mrs. Sears choosing my cake colors and when Aunt Ruby surprised me with my store-bought doll cake. And I’m quite sure she felt special…