We celebrated a birthday in our family recently.
In the weeks and days leading up to it there was the usual discussion of what kind of cake the birthday child wanted, what we would have for dinner, any special activities we would do that day, etc.
It ended up being a full day, with a few gifts in the morning and special breakfast of Lucky Charms picked out by the birthday girl, a bouncy house excursion (with a few cousins joining up for the fun), a grey cat chocolate cake, visit to Grandma, ice cream at DQ (drive thru on our way home), and spaghetti and meatballs for supper.
The whole day was a lot of fun, but also felt like a lot of hoopla when sometimes birthdays are pretty simple home/family affairs. I’m always torn between celebrating hard vs. letting the birthday be a more normal part of our life. When you go big once, you’ll be expected to again. And again. And again . . . x (however many kids you have). The younger sister is already full of ideas for her birthday which is over a month away.
On our way home, my husband asked, “Do we have a tradition yet of the birthday kid not doing any chores?” We both come from larger families where this was a cherished element of birthday tradition (at least for the birthday kid), but we couldn’t think if we had made it into an expectation in our own family. “Let’s wait and see at clean-up time,” I said. “The kids will let us know.” We didn’t end up having clean-up time that night because the house was still relatively neat with us having been gone most of the day (side benefit of days out!). So we still don’t know if No-chores-for-the-birthday-kid is a thing yet.
But it got me thinking about traditions and expectations for celebrations. Something we usually do is decorate the kitchen table a little, and have a few gifts right away in the morning. I like to give the kids that kind of “Ahhh!” moment first thing to make the day feel special, plus Papa gets to join the fun before going to work for the day.
Then, of course, there are also the special foods that the birthday kid picks out and a specially designed/decorated cake (which is my favorite part if I don’t procrastinate and end up baking at 1:00 am the night before! Hehe, tiny confession there). We have a few gifts, sometimes thrifted. I think the overall message we want them to get is: “You are special and loved in this family but the world does not now and never will revolve around you”.
What are birthday traditions in your family of origin or the family you now have? How do you keep a balance of making the birthday person feel special, but not over-doing it (I know the measure for this will vary widely)? I’m always happy for new inspirations!
with love, Anita