Celebrating birthdays is pretty important to me, given my childhood ones weren’t the best. Now, with a family of my own, I relish making birthdays special.
Munching on ham and cheese toddler left-overs at the park, I was asked by a mommy friend recently what I was planning for TJ’s fourth birthday.
Huh? TJ’s b-i-r-t-h-d-a-y? It’s in November. Summer’s not hardly over. Am I thinking about an event three months away?
Since becoming a mom, the topic of birthdays, how to celebrate them and who’s having one is like reading the daily news.
Birthdays are interesting in that they are both a personal and communal human experience. Yet, how we all like to celebrate birthdays also vary because of family cultures.
In our family, Hubby and I have a tradition, that started back when we were dating. We have a week long celebration of the birthday boy/girl, starting with the weekend.
The VIP gets to choose the weekend activity and video of the week. Meals that week are chosen from the birthday person’s fave picks. On the day of, the guest of honor gets the spotlight, recounting highlights from the past year and what to look forward in the new year.
Then, it’s cake time! Presents and cards get fussed over, with pictures snapping every minute.
Boiled Egg Birthdays
What a big contrast for someone like me, who grew up with a mommy, who would recite her long tale of woe, whenever she got me a birthday cake.
“When I was a little girl, all I got was a boiled egg. And that was if I was lucky to even get anything!” Ah-Ma would lament of her days back in China.
All I wanted was to have some balloons and streamers, with a pinata and party favors to give out. Just like my friends at school. This was only to be a pipe dream, until I was sixteen years old.
And guess what? I threw it myself, with the money I made from my summer job. Happy Birthday to me!
I actually got close to having Ah-Ma throw me a birthday party when I was twelve years old. I told her twelve was really, really important. PLEASE! I begged her day and night. Day after day. Just three or four friends.
Money was tight in our single parent household, so mom was devious. She laid out the terms of the deal.
“Okay, you can have a small, little birthday party, if you don’t get any detention after school from now until the day of your party.” I swore allegiance to the contract with all the might an eleven year old girl could muster. It was two weeks before my birthday.
Now, before you think, “Girl, you’ve got it made. That’s a piece of cake!”, I’ll let you in on some 411.
I had graced the detention halls after school since I could remember. On every report card from K-6, I never failed to bring home bad marks for talking in class. My teachers would even move my desk away from the rest of the class and put me in the corner. That was peanuts for this talker. Detention, here I come!
I wanted this birthday party so bad, I actually made it detention-free for nine days straight. I was so psyched about having my first birthday party that I wrote a note to tell my best friend how excited I was to finally have one.
Until I got busted for passing the note to her in class.
To this day, I have the pain of my canceled twelfth birthday party seared into my heart and soul. It was the cruelest act anyone could inflict on a little girl named Bonnie. I think I’m allowed my pity party on this one, don’t you think?
This year, as I drive home with a bazillion helium balloons blocking my rear view mirror, I will do so with joy bursting in my heart, with a birthday song humming in my car. I will ice the cake that I would’ve baked for TJ and cover it with a thousand sprinkles.
And as I serve his little friends some cake and ice cream, I’ll tell TJ, “Happy Birthday, Sweetie! ..You know when I was a little girl, all I got for my birthday …”
Naw. Just kidding. I’m just gonna sing Happy Birthday and help him blow out the candles.
“May your father and mother be glad; may she who gave you birth rejoice!” Proverbs 23:25
What are your childhood birthday memories?
What birthday traditions do you enjoy now with your family and friends?