So my son turned 8 this week. And since he's getting older, he's past the big party with the entire class at a venue where there's food, fanfare, and inflatables. He had a simple request for his big day: A sleepover with three friends. Perfect.
Of course... a sleepover had to be on a weekend. And his birthday was on a Tuesday. And you gotta do something on the actual day of birth. But hey, great way to get the grandparents involved and have a family celebration - a little cake, a little ice cream - short and sweet.
And even though the other set of grandparents lives out of town, no problem - we'd just go visit them too, have a quaint little no-frills party - in and out. And then really, that's it. No need to get crazy over this one.
So we just met them in Blowing Rock at my aunt's two weeks before his birthday. And sure, they decorated the place with streamers and banners, and they had presents, and cards with money inside. But they didn't do a cake or anything. Although, they did have a full-blown ice cream sundae bar that would have put Ben & Jerry's to shame, but you know, simple in concept.
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And then two weeks later on the eve of his birthday, I just wrote a little note, dug out a baby picture of him, and taped it to his bedroom door. But it really needed more pictures, so I think I rounded up nine more to create a little baby collage around a birthday sign I made, along with the letter about how he got his name. Just a quick little thing.
And then, I don't know, I thought it'd be cool if he came downstairs and saw baby pictures taped up to the back door. And it only took 70 pictures to make an awesome collage that covered the 10-foot glass door and both transoms on either side. But it was no big deal.
Then after a special birthday breakfast, I went to his school for a special birthday lunch and to pass out 21 cupcakes to his class. Then home to decorate for a Halloween-themed family gathering that just so happened to include several neighbors and their kids who all ended up staying for a birthday dinner. And cake. And ice cream.
And then four days later, it was nice just to have his three little friends over for his birthday party. Well, dinner and a movie first, I mean, we have to do something special. And cake. And ice cream.
I'm just glad we are past all the hoopla of the big, overblown birthday event. It's good that we can send this message to our children early - that birthdays are just a day to celebrate with your loved ones. Because otherwise, these things could really get out of control.