Party animal-not…

I don’t know what it is about the women in our family. We’re just kinda bunched together. A few days before my Mom’s 24th birthday, I was born. Two days after I turned 20 Shannon was born. Three days after my granddaughter Ariana’s 26th birthday, her daughter Jovi was born. So Ari celebrated her own birthday spending the day getting ready for Jovi’s party.

Jovi’s 3rd birthday, 2020…

I think a person’s birthday is really special. I’ve always felt we should do less gifty stuff on Christmas, instead going all out on their birthday. It’s the one day a year that’s truly theirs. A big deal. This hasn’t always been the case though after I became a mom. Much of my early birthday party qualms/fears when my kids were small revolved around money-or the lack of it. Parties were expensive. Cake, invitations, decorations, food, party favors, plus all the presents. And I wasn’t much of an event planner (it’s been rumored I might have bribed my own kids a time or 2 with cold hard cash-NOT have a party on their big day. Just a rumor, no need for a mutiny).

Joshua’s second birthday party on the farm, 1977…

I can only remember having one birthday party when I was a kid. Don’t know if that had anything to do with my party reluctance after I had kids. Mom was an introvert and wasn’t comfortable with a bunch of noisy girls invading her space. Another reason was probably celebrating anything in our house after Larry’s death seemed disloyal and phony.

My 12th birthday scavenger hunt party, 1962. December and I’m wearing shorts!

Family parties for your kids were different though. There weren’t games to plan or prizes needed. Both sets of grandparents showed up, plus a couple aunts and uncle’s and their kids, so a meal was in order. Something easy like cream chicken buns or Taverns with potato salad and a homemade cake. The kids played together, the adults visited until it was time to open presents. The presents were fawned over, thanks given and everyone left for home. Easy. Enjoyable and not too much work.

Shannon’s 2nd birthday party, Hinton, Iowa, 1972…

A kid’s party with peers was much more work. There had to be a theme, and face it, the kids either wanted tacos or pizza. Homemade food didn’t impress any of them. You were actually part referee/guard/chaperone and had to be involved every minute, defusing spats, judging games for potential prize winners and making sure no one got hurt. While parties were a lot of work, when you looked around at all your little guest’s faces you knew when their special day rolled around, all the responsibility was on their parent’s shoulders. And you’d breathe a big sigh of relief.

Adam’s 2nd birthday party, Davenport, Iowa, 1981…

When I was a young mom my week, geez my whole month was MADE when one of our kids was invited to someone ELSE’S party. Celebrate good times-come on!! Because when they attended a party there was this feeling-something akin to euphoria. Fleeting but felt pretty awesome. You bought a present, drove to the party kid’s house, (always coming to a complete stop). If you weren’t pressed for time you might even walk them to the door. (These small allotments of freedom were scarce, but hey-safety first).

Joshua’s 5th, Spencer, Iowa, 1980…

Several years ago kid’s birthday parties morphed into more than “just family” oriented. It seemed you no longer invited 10 of your six year olds best friends. Now the family from each invited kid comes along. Crazy right? I can tell you right now, 40 years ago when one of our elementary kids went to a birthday party there was no way John would contemplate attending that party for one solitary second. Hubs standing around watching a bunch of 7 year olds run around the house while he sipped a glass of wine. No. Way. Not even for a beer.

Shannon’s 3rd, Sioux City, Iowa, 1973…

With 3 kids ranging 9 years apart, when one was invited somewhere, the remaining 4 of us celebrated just as hard as the kid going to the party. Once again there was an equal adult/kid ratio. It’s all about balance. You fit in a regular booth without adding a chair at the end. It’s not that we didn’t want 3 kids (and mattered even less which one of the kids was gone). In our parental minds there were several, solid, valid reasons to celebrate when our family shrunk for 3 mere hours. I know it sounds crazy, but lame or not, much of our entertainment system was based on when one of the rugrats was elsewhere. They were safe, having a good time and the magnitude of your parental responsibilities was a bit less.

Adam’s 8th, Jackson, Mi, 1987…

(Does anyone else think it’s odd when guys are invited to a baby or bride to be shower? I know they’re a huge part of the equation in both celebrations-but. This is another recent addition in our ever changing society I just don’t understand. Part of the party allure for me was bringing the gifts, silly stories, embarrassing gaffes home and sharing them with Hubs-to-be/daddy-to-be. The last baby shower I attended included a game with the focus on a newborn pampers with “fake poop” inside and you had to figure out what the fake baby ate before dispensing fake poop. It wouldn’t have mattered what was inside, had that been passed around to John, he would have gagged and made a real mess for someone to clean up). Now where was I?

Ari’s 4th birthday, North Muskegon, 1994…

To (birthday) party or not. The way we celebrate one’s birthday is different for each of us. Some parents would feel remiss if their child’s birthday wasn’t celebrated as a lavish affair with all the trimmings, bouncy house, pony rides, splash park. Others grew up with having relatives only come over their birthday and want to continue that tradition with their own children.

Landon’s favorite birthday present-shoes, shoes and more shoes, 2005…

Lately my birthday has been a big deal (internally/emotionally). As I grow older and reflect on those no longer here on earth. Just think of all the friends and family who will never celebrate another birthday. That alone is reason to pause, give thanks and be grateful. I love birthdays and hope to celebrate many more. I’m just not real big on the party part. Whether birthday parties are a huge deal in your life or you’re inclined to indulge in a fancy dessert and call it good. The important thing is to celebrate life. Even when it’s not your birthday…

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