Sunday, January 10, 2010

Happy Birthday -- So what do ya think?

My son is going to be 11 months old tomorrow. Lately I've been fielding questions about what I'm doing for his first birthday party next month. The answer is -- not much of anything.

Even though my husband and I grew up on opposite sides of this island, neither of us had birthday parties as kids. Weird by most people's standards. Yes, we had cake (his was always his mother's homemade carrot cake with vanilla icing); we had presents; we got our choice of supper for the night (always pizza for me!), but we didn't do the cone-hat-wearing, streamer-blowing, snotty-nosed kid parties. (Ok... we, or our siblings may have had snotty noses... but, you know what I mean...)

Now that we have our own children, we've passed this "no birthday party" clause on to our family. And, you know what? The more I hear parents gripe about birthday parties, the more I'm glad we're taking our stance.

For instance, in the past two days, the majority of my mommy friends' statuses on Facebook have gone something like the following:
  1. "Ugh. Only a week after Christmas break and son/daughter has to go to 2 parties today."
  2. "Just spent 3 hours stapling colouring books togther for son's birthday party. Why did we invite 40 kids?"
  3. "Good sales at -- going to stock up on birthday party presents!"
  4. "Wow how time flies! Can't believe son is 2 today! All ready except the hor d'oeuvre tray for the parents! Don't know how I'm going to get that done in time :("
  5. "Can't believe daughter will be 1 next month. Going shopping for something really big to surprise her at her party!"
Now, with each of these that I read, I think in my little mind:
  1. Your son/daughter does not have to go to both parties, nor does s/he have to go to any. S/he's 5 years old! It's only a minor blip in his/her life!!!!!!!
  2. Why did you invite 40 kids??!?! Where, with your newborn and 2 other children, do you even find time to create/print/staple 40 colouring books that'll get thrown in the garbage anyway?!?!
  3. Pretty sure, honey, your present will again, be a minor blip in the birthday child's life. Within a few minutes it'll likely get thrown aside, swept up, or re-gifted to someone else!
  4. Who's the party for, honey? You? Your son? The Jones's (of 'Keep Up With the Joneses' fame) next door? 
  5. Um... your daughter is turning O N E! She's only gonna remember her birthday in pictures!
Recently, I tweeted some reasons why I don't do birthday parties. But in the end, the #1 reason remains:
In a world where people increasingly expect more and more and appreciate less and less, I really think that these birthday parties inadvertently teach kids to be greedy or to expect too much material stuff that they won't use or appreciate at too young an age.

Our dear son will enjoy a mini-birthday cake he can poke, lick, prod any way he wishes... at home with his dad, his older sister, and I. As for a gift... well... let's just say it won't be anything too elaborate!

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Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my post! ~Dawn