Do you celebrate your birthday? I always have celebrated mine. Sometimes with a big party, and sometimes with just a single cupcake.
My husband, before we met, had never celebrated his birthday as an adult. I had found that strange at first. I remember celebrating my parents birthdays and anniversaries even when I was a kid. I couldn’t think of anyone not celebrating their birthdays.
Of course, when you think about it, it does seem ridiculous to celebrate another year you’re closer to death! But then again, you also need to celebrate the miracle of your birth and your presence on this planet.
Over the years since then, I have met many people for whom birthdays are no different from any other day. I have also met people who celebrate with all the enthusiasm of a child who’s just realised you get gifts on your birthday.
Having hosted and been to a few birthday parties for kids, I’ve noticed how the importance of gifts has overtaken the fun aspect of parties. The birthday kids just can’t wait to open their presents, and the guests can’t wait to get their return gifts or party favours. Try hosting a child’s party without party favours. You’ll be crucified.
This made me think of how materialistically we’re raising our kids these days. The lure of toys and ‘things’ is everywhere. Even us adults are not immune to the pull of a storefront. But does that mean we give up celebrating kids’ birthdays?
A lot of times, I feel it’s us parents who are to blame for this. Some parents go overboard with the birthday theme, decor, dresses, location, and gifts. For the parents that stay within reason, it becomes difficult to explain to their child why they cannot have an extravagant party as well.
Do kids really need to have fancy parties and extravagant gifts to enjoy themselves? Most of them don’t care and would even hate the overcrowded party halls and stiff, formal clothes they’re made to wear.
The only kid’s party I enjoyed myself at was when kids and adults played fun games and won pens and pencils as gifts.
I’ve tried to keep my son’s celebrations as fun as possible with a more intimate gathering of select friends. But I know as he grows, he’ll want to demand bigger and better things. We might even give in to it for a year or two so that he can experience what it’s like to have one.
As for celebrating my birthdays, the last big celebration I remember was my 11th birthday. I had invited my entire class home. My mom had cooked, and my dad took a day off to decorate and arrange the party. It was fun. We ate, talked, then went to the park. There were no return gifts, and there were very few gifts that weren’t a box of chocolates. I still have one of the gifts I got that year—a set of miniature dogs.
After that, as I entered my teenage years, I only kept a select few friends close to my heart. I preferred spending time with some rather than many. That has continued even as an adult.
I do like to celebrate my birthday every year. Something quiet with people I love, and some good food. I won’t say no to a thoughtful gift – a handmade one is preferred over an expensive one any day. The cake is a must. I cannot compromise on that.
I am thankful for having people in my life that make me feel special and loved. That itself is the biggest gift I could ever wish for.