Our sweet Leo will be turning 2 next month.
Confession: I have yet to do birthday “parties” for either one of our boys where invitations were sent, neither via an e-vite nor snail mail. In today’s parenting culture, from time to time I do feel a bit reluctant to admit that it is actually not something we are very proactive with. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good party, have people over to our house, preparing delicious meals, the sharing and the connection . It is the over-the-top, the more the merrier kind of parties that make me think twice.
Now that I am more aware of my own childhood, as I look back I realize birthdays were not such a big deal in my family. Partly it is because my birthday is on Christmas Eve (Church and Jesus took center stage) . Mostly it was because everyone was just too busy. It was remembered and a family dinner was prepared or dining out was scheduled. I was not modelled on how a good kids birthday party was thrown. As I got older, and went to other people’s birthday parties, I didn’t recall having that much of a good time. It was usually frenzied, chaotic, noisy and rushing to get the candles and cake part done – and then the presents. It was always tearing out the wrapping and trying to get through the pile before anyone can take a breath. There was never any order to these parties and it often just felt messy to me.
As our youngest boy will be turning 2 in a month, the idea of “to have or not to have” a birthday party has been circling my thoughts. The first thing I always ask myself is:
“If we are going to have a birthday party, is it going to be a party for me (the adults) or is it going to be for the little ones?”
For Leland’s first birthday 3 years ago, I made a rich dark chocolate cake for just us (the grandparents and the two of us) to enjoy. We did have candles and I did put his name on the cake and we even took photos of him watching us blow out the candle. It was truly simple and sweet. We knew that Leland would not remember this particular birthday but the photos will show him that it was important, acknowledged and celebrated. We didn’t at all feel the pressure of having a big shindig, in fact we felt it was quite authentic to our own (developing) family culture.
For Leo’s first birthday last summer, it was a bit different. Since the older brother was 3 and much more aware, we decided to do a simple birthday breakfast with just the 4 of us. We made a blueberry pancake tower and sang a few songs. It felt as though it was Leland that enjoyed the experience the most. For him, it was all about the candles, lighting them and blowing them out. There were no presents, except for a birthday ring that had photos of Leo throughout the year and ONE wood decoration on the ring.
So far my goal it still trying to keep birthdays and celebrations as genuine and simple as we can. While they grow to become more aware of their own birthdays, so will I in regards to how I will be carving out our own kind of birthday traditions. My goal is to be part of developing with them a healthy, meaningful and heartfelt outlook with their own birthdays as well as the birthdays of their loved ones.