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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

to party or not?

Birthdays are no doubt special occasion, if we want to see it that way. I am not particular about my birthday, but I do want to make D feel special on his birthday. And, I certainly want Ana to feel special, to know that we are happy to have her in our lives.

But, what is a good way to celebrate? Of course, that is completely subjective: what I enjoy doing in terms of celebration is not what the next person likes to do.

I grew up with low-key birthdays, where my mom made paisam and some favorite meal, we went to the temple, and if we could afford it, my parents would get me something from my wish list.

Plus, my birthday doesn't fall on the same day each year in the Gregorian calendar as my parents preferred celebrating according to panchanga nakshatra period in the Hindu calendar. Not much fanfare, no big parties, and it suited me just fine, I am quite introverted and prefer to remain inconspicuous. And, I do try to follow the panchangam and celebrate Ana's nakshatra birthday, just to keep up the family tradition I grew up with, if not for anything else...

I find birthday parties for kids, where 20-40 (or more) kids are invited, where perhaps Barney or a Clown is in attendance to "entertain", and where excessive sugary treats are served, to be a bit unpalatable for my tastes. Absolutely no offense to parents and kids who love to celebrate that way! Yay to all and let's do what makes us happy.

Left to myself I would rather "celebrate" Ana's Birthday in a simple get-together involving close family and friends who are willing to take the time to stop by, break bread with us, mingle, catch-up and just relax the day away, while the handful of assembled wee ones try to do something fun.

Am I taking away a part of Ana's childhood by not throwing lavish parties? Am I depriving her of some developmental and emotional need by not getting her "friends" together and having a gala affair? She is not yet two, so, she doesn't really have friends. But, down the road, when she is in school and I don't have a huge party, will that affect her adversely?

I do not believe so, but, everything is subjective. And, peer pressure is a strong and compelling influence. While I do not want to have to throw extravagant kids' birthday parties, I am sure if the community and society I live in expects reciprocal action from me, I would have little choice in the matter, without appearing anti-social and plain rude.

Why am I rambling about this? Well, D & I were wondering what we would like to do for Ana's birthday this year, and thankfully we both agreed on a quiet and simple family get-together - maybe half a dozen kids, and a dozen or so adults.

Only Time and possibly Ana can tell how we end up celebrating her birthdays over the coming years, but, for now, making her the center of attraction (shouldn't be hard as the entire Universe revolves around her at this age!), letting her know she is loved very much, seeing her enjoy & appreciate any birthday "gift" we manage to get for her, wishing her well, wishing her joy and just spending a few hours together with the close company (which doesn't happen otherwise due to the busy lives we all lead), is in itself a wonderful treat!

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At 8:32 AM, Blogger Sandeepa said...

At "two" kids are a bit lost at their own birth day party if its huge :)
But by 3-4 they enjoy being the center of attention and so might like a birthday party where they feel very important.
But I think as they grow older and hav friends around age of 5-6 they enjoy it most with close friends

Again it depends on the kid and is my observation

At 8:41 PM, Blogger Tharini said...

Sounds like a lovely celebration already! I am sure Ana will enjoy all the excitement, even tho she may not fully 'get' that its for her.

And this is what I had written in response to your comment on my blog...posting it here in case you don't get to read it..I have a feeling we are going to get to know each other a lot better from now on. Thanks for taking the time to write to me. You don't know much I appreciate it from someone whom I just got acquainted with. :)

At 4:43 AM, Blogger B o o said...

You have a lovely blog here Sheela. Too bad I discovered it only now. I am devouring your archives like crazy!
I think all of us go through this party anxiety. But "sources" tell me that parties become a must after kids start school at least to break even for all the kids parties we attend and gifts we give! ;)
Mind if I add you at ?

At 8:27 PM, Blogger Praba said...

Hi Sheela -

Nice topic. I need to do a post on this since my daughter, K just celebrated her fifth bday, and I can relate to your situation quite well. Two is a tricky stage for birthday parties - they don't totally get it, but still know a few things like cake, candles, balloons etc. We used to read lots of birthday themed books right before her birthday to get her into the mood and help her understand what it means to have a birthday. I don't remember the titles now...I will try to look it up and send you if I can...

At 3, we did a musical b'day party in her kindermusik class with her class buddies - she didn't go to preschool, and had a small group of friends take a music class with her...And it was really nice because the teacher incorporated lots of musical instrument exploration, songs, stories etc..In the end we all sang a song to her that I wrote about K when she was a, it was low-key and a nice themed - nothing too overwhelming..

Then at 4 - we had a small group of her friends meet her at a pottery studio, and all of them got to work on pottery painting projects..again very small group...

For the first time, this year we got to do it at home after her first b'day...I wanted to make it interesting for her and we picked a theme - we wanted to focus on the artics and the antarctics - so we made it "polar bear and penguin themed one" - we talked about "keeping it simple so we could help the enviroment - polar bears being endangered etc.." no plastic goodybags, no balloons.. the kids worked on craft projects - "make a penguin bookmark" and decorate an igloo kinda project, and took it home instead of flashy and sugary stuff in their goodybags...(she is an april born - earth day is april, from on as long as she wants to have a party or something - it will be something related to earth...)

so - i guess my point is you can keep it low-key and start a tradition or use the opportunity to reinforce something - i know someone who donate books to the library on behalf their children's birthday every year...

hope that was helpful...

At 8:28 PM, Blogger Praba said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 8:32 AM, Blogger Sheela said...

thank you all, i appreciate your input...

prabha, how wonderful! thank you for sharing your ideas - sounds very much like what i've been hoping to do with Ana for her birthdays.

At 9:35 AM, Blogger Praba said...

sheela -

thanks! An ST comment was left here by mistake...( i tried to cut,copy and paste...geez...didnt realize this would get stuck here...) sorry!


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