Two weeks ago, our oldest child turned 6 years old. I know that everyone says “time flies”, but I truly didn’t realize how swiftly time zooms by until I had children. Suddenly, I found myself measuring the days and years based on my child and how he’s grown. And children grow fast. They acquire language at a rapid pace and learn new things quicker than a hound dog chasing a rabbit. Given that I grew up with hound dogs, I know what I’m talking about 🙂
Joe has finished kindergarten. His birthday took place on the last full day of school (the following day was a 1/2 day). He was relieved and pleased that he was able to bring in birthday treats for his friends and celebrate on the day. I was happy for him – my birthday is December 23rd, and I often felt sad that I couldn’t celebrate my birthday at school. I can’t remember bringing in treats for my birthday, but I’m sure that I did. My mom tells the story of how my preschool teacher asked her how she was planning to make pancakes at the school. My mom, in confusion, asked what she was talking about. Apparently, I’d been telling everyone that my mom would be bringing in pancakes for my birthday. My mom laughed and explained that she was bringing in cupcakes, not pancakes. Cupcakes are pretty amazing, but I still think pancakes would be a cool birthday treat to have at school.
We went back and forth about how to celebrate Joe’s birthday. We had a big party at a local park last year complete with lots of food and friends. At Jack’s birthday back in April, we joined forces with another family and had the party at the local Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport. That was also a big event with lots of food (pizza, Chick-fil-A, cake, snacks, etc.). Birthdays in Williamsburg are a big deal. There are lots of venues around here that advertise party packages: The Bounce House, the Williamsburg Indoor Sports Complex, Great Wolf Lodge, Go-Karts Plus, and on and on. Just down the road are many more, with the Virginia Living Museum and the Hampton Air & Space Museum both offering packages. We’ve been able to experience some amazing parties and have grown closer to our children’s friend’s parents and to our community as a result.
Big parties can be a lot of fun, but we were getting concerned that, for our children, the birthday party was turning into a very “me” focused time. Statements along the lines of, “It’s my birthday, so I get to do whatever I want” or “I get to choose whatever I want to do on my birthday” were starting to pop up in our house. This year, we decided to tone the party back a little and it went so well that we’re considering having on and off years, where we have a bigger party one year and then a smaller, more sedate party the next.
This year, we celebrated by letting Joe choose what he wanted for breakfast and for dinner, then bringing in treats to his school at lunch. He opened presents from us and both sets of grandparents on his actual birth day, and 2 days later (Saturday) we went to Busch Gardens here in Williamsburg. We spent several hours there and bought lunch at the park (something we usually don’t do). Later that evening, Chris took Joe back to Busch Gardens again for some special father-son time and they ended the day with a massive cookie skillet sundae topped with 3 scoops of Joe’s choice of ice cream and smothered with a layer of melted Godiva chocolate ganache.
We talked frequently about how grateful we were that Joe was a part of our family and reminisced about when he was born, telling stories about how much he has grown. We also talked about birthdays and hospitality and spending time with family and all of those good things. I think he had a lot of fun. I don’t know that we’re set on doing an “every other year” pattern of parties, but it was nice to do something different.
I’m so thankful for our Joe 🙂