When did children’s birthday parties get so big?
When I was growing up, we thought it was a big deal to get a homemade birthday cake with candles to blow out, ice cream, potato chips and punch with immediate family. It was a big deal to get to invite friends over to share the goodies. If we were really lucky, there might be a sleep over.
Some people say that any excuse to have a party is a good excuse. Getting friends together is almost always a good thing, whether it is called a party or not.
My granddaughter turned four earlier this summer. We had a few people meet at a pizza place in Louisville, went back to the apartment for cake and ice cream, opened presents and called it good. She had already had a party at her mom’s.
She was happy. The other kids were happy. We were all happy.
My mom and dad celebrated birthdays 84 and 86 respectively, a week apart. I did not get to be home on the actual days. My brother and I took them out to dinner before I had to go back to Louisville to babysit and he had to go back to work at University of the Cumberlands.
Last weekend was my grandson’s sixth birthday. My son and one of his friends planned the birthday party. It was an “end of summer, back to school, starting kindergarten, happy birthday” kind of party. I’ve been to other kids parties with inflatables and a big to-do, but this part was huge. There were about 30 kids and at least as many adults.
Tables were set up in the yard, on the patio, on the deck, and all around. There were plenty of Mario decorations, helium balloons, and a two-layer Mario birthday cake. It was pretty impressive stuff. Build them yourself tacos with all of the fixings rounded out the menu.
The inflatable two story waterslide was the hit of the day. The children each made between 50-100 trips up the rungs to the top of the inflated water slide and back down. It seemed they would never tire of it. Between food, cake, presents and games, all of the kids returned to the slide.
Alex was thrilled down to his toes that “all of that” was for him.
As great as it was for a day to have such an amazing party for a child, I couldn’t help thinking about how outrageous kid’s birthday celebrations have become.
Will he expect the same thing next year? Will he be disappointed if it doesn’t happen? How do you compete with a perfect summer blow out with perfect weather and such a crowd of well-wishers? What will be done for the milestone birthdays like 16, 18 or 21?
It was all good, but I know kids pretty well. They don’t dream about perfect parties, budgets, etc. They are happy to have a few people together who love them, a birthday cake and a couple of presents.
When I was growing up, a kid was lucky to have a couple of birthday parties in their entire life. Having one every year and expecting friends and family to attend every year for every child and bring presents was absolutely unthinkable. Who could afford it?
Times change. Parties have changed. Maybe I’m too old fashioned. I still think a weenie roast, a few friends, and a slice of cake are enough to make most kids happy.
Alex’s sixth birthday is definitely one to remember. It couldn’t have gone any better. I hope the memories of it last him a lifetime.
Reach Judith Victoria Hensley at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook. Check out her blog: One Step Beyond the Door.