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Monday, January 11, 2010

When did this happen to birthdays?


Pretty much as soon as the ball drops over Times Square on New Year's Eve, my thoughts turn toward birthdays. Annie and Robbie were born on February 13th -- six years and 39 minutes apart.

Most years, I shop for their birthday gifts while I'm Christmas shopping because the deals are pretty good. So in early January, it's time to start thinking about how to celebrate. When I was a kid, birthdays were celebrated by inviting the grandparents over to dinner with cake and ice cream afterwards.

I don't recall choosing a restaurant to go to (though I'm sure we got to set the birthday menu for the home cooked meal). And I'm fairly certain that I only had one, maybe two, "friends" birthday parties. The one I remember for certain was a surprise party for my sweet 16 at the local McDonald's.

What's more, there was only one celebration. Now, because we don't live in the same city as either set of grandparents, we have the celebration with just our family of 5, then the celebration with my parents, then the celebration in Evansville with Mike's parents. And if we plan a friends party, that's FOUR birthday parties. Is it any wonder birthdays wear me out?

So when did birthdays get to be such major productions? Annie's first "friends" party was at the age of 3 -- a Blue's Clues party. Plenty of other bashes followed in the subsequent years. There was the American Girl Coconut the dog party, the horse party where we had friends bring their horse in a trailer to our street and the girls got to ride up and down the street in the freezing cold, the American Idol karaoke party, the movie theater and McDonald's party, and the Steak-n-Shake and magic show party.

The boys' parties have all been outside the house because (shhh...don't tell) little boys scare me. They are loud and wild and they play in a way that makes it look like they are fighting. So we've done the bounce house party, the baseball game party, the basketball court party and the Children's Museum party. And honestly, Charlie gets kind of gypped on the party front because his birthday is in the summer when our budget is stretched a little thin and it's right before the 4th of July, so it seems that most of his friends are on vacation.

Today the calendar reads January 11 -- I have just over a month to figure out how we're going to celebrate Annie and Robbie's birthdays. Part of me would like to keep it low-key. Maybe a Lego-theme party at home for Robbie (with actual boys! gasp! maybe 4 or 5). The other part of me says Annie is turning 13 and that's a big deal.

If the budget would allow, I'd whisk her away to New York City for a Broadway show. Maybe when she turns 16. I've thought about renting a hotel suite downtown so she and her friends can swim, watch movies and be giddy. There's a school dance the day before her birthday. Maybe a sleepover after the dance? Or I might just figure out what a party would cost me and offer her that in cash to spend on whatever she wants.

Too bad I can't just invite the grandparents over for cake and ice cream.


Eternal Lizdom said...

Birthdays were always a small home affair when I was growing up- part of that being because we couldn't afford otherwise. I didn't get to go to my friends' birthday aprties because we couldn't afford a gift and my mom was too embarassed about that. So I have no idea what other parties were like. I do now that I had a homemade cake every year. And I begged and begged for an ice cream cake every year. And when I finally got one... meh.

I didn't know about their birthdays- that's so cool!

I've always said that I have a plan for Teagan's 13th birthday- a celebration of womanhood. Mom and daughter have lunch at the tea room or something like that. Then off to Merle Norman for make up lessons and purchases. Then new shoes, new outfit- all with a more mature look. Off to the spa for pedis and manis. Off to get ears pierced. All leading up to dinner at Oceanaire or something with Dad and Zach. But we'll wait and see what she's into when we get there!

Jessica McCoy said...

My parents divorced when I was 2 so I had a party at mom's and then one at dad's. Then sometimes each set of grandparents would have cake. I loved it and still love it now. My co-worker and I share a birthday (Feb 19th) so we plan on having a big party here at the office and my hubby always does something for me at home :).