Turning 10 and 16 were the only two birthdays that resulted in hosting a party at my house when I was growing up. I’ve never felt slighted, and yet, for some reason, I’ve made my children’s birthdays much grander year after year.
It started quite by accident, actually. We decided to let my first born have her first big party when she turned 5. That seemed like a milestone for some reason.
Our basement was unfinished. A very dear friend and neighbor came over to help me paint a mural across the wall. We drew a giant castle, complete with a princess hanging out one of the windows, a knight coming to her rescue and a smirk-eyed green dragon peeking his head around the whole scene. It was also a costume party, so even though it was April, it looked like Halloween. The basement was wall to wall pirates, princesses, knights, ninja turtles and superheroes.
My husband also had the reluctant honor of holding a pinata, while blind-folded kindergartners took turns swinging a large stick near him. When the candy finally spilled over, our basement floor looked like a swarming mound of ants racing to get back in their hill.
I don’t regret holding such a fun and furious event, but it’s the years following that have tired me out more. Scavenger hunts, “spa” days, weekend retreats, pottery painting, indoor pool parties, and 13 plus giggling girls for a sleepover are just a few of the highlights. Although both my girls are very appreciative, I feel like some of the specialness or charm of celebrating has vanished.
Spring is constant birthdays in our house. Between late March to mid-April, both my girls and myself turn another year older. The table talk has been buzzing for months about how to celebrate. I’ve been pushing for something smaller for each of them, trying to point out the importance of creating real relationships with their friends rather than getting lost in the crowd. We’ve even set a budget of what they can spend, which isn’t much, forcing a much less grand scheme of events.
“Mom,” asked the youngest. “How did you celebrate your birthday as a kid?”
“My whole family got dressed up and went out to dinner at a restaurant chosen by me,” I replied. “And I got to bring one friend, who came to dinner and spend the night. My dad would even let us order dessert after our meal.”
“That’s it?” she said, stunned.
“That was enough,” I said.