When Natalie turned one, we threw a huge party.
We didn’t have flame throwers or a Ferris wheel or limo rides. No one got a gift bag, and I made her cake myself.
But we did host a BBQ for our family and friends in our backyard. We invited all the young families in our Sunday school class, and we hired a balloon artist to entertain the masses of children ages three and under. (His rates were impressively reasonable.) Since we lived in San Diego at the time, we busted open a piñata.And because Natalie was the first grandchild on both sides of the family, the grandparents and out-of-town aunts and uncles flew in for the festivities.
We weren’t trying to jump on the over-the-top birthday treadmill.
We were just deliriously in love with our daughter and so very proud. We wanted to share our joy with everyone we knew.
It was a magical evening, brimming with laughter and delight.
Fast-forward almost six years to today. (An apt description of the parental time warp where my children age eight times faster than me.) Natalie is again approaching a birthday – this time, her seventh. I still love throwing parties for her, but now that we have three kids, we’re trying to keep parties in perspective.
(Of course, at times, you have no choice. Take, for example, Connor’s first birthday. He was just two years behind Natalie, and he was the second grandchild on both sides. But because we had just moved to a small town in the middle of nowhere, very few family members could make it, and we didn’t really have any friends at that point. Thus, his first birthday party consisted of a few balloons and cake at the dining room table. I’m already saving for his therapy.)
Natalie’s party this year will be at a indoor water park. Her guests will be the other girls from her first grade class; no more mixed birthday parties for a while. It will be a pretty simple affair -- just sugar, singing and swimming.
I feel good about that. Hopefully, it will be a fun afternoon for everyone – without having to morph into an occasion that rivals the Presidential Inaugural Ball.
But because this party will be a couple of days before her actual birthday, I’m left wondering how I can make the date of her birth special. I don’t want to skip over that day on the calendar. It’s important to me. It changed my life.
We still don’t have much family in the area, so it will probably be just our immediate family celebrating that day. Traditionally, the birthday person gets to request their favorite meal for dinner that night – and of course, we have more cake.
But that doesn’t seem fun enough. (I’m a bit of a fun addict.) I want more – without having to go all out for a second party. Maybe a silly wake-up song? A special card at breakfast? What traditions do you have in your family to make birthdays special? I'm looking for ideas.
Find Kelly also blogging at Love Well.