Our entire family retreats when attention is brought to them on their birthdays, so much so that I cannot remember the last time we have hosted a birthday party with invited friends and neighbors. My husband once made the grave mistake of planning for me a surprise birthday party. I almost cried in embarrassment.
Gifts and cake, on the other hand, are a must. Forget to honor me with gifts and cake on my birthday and dangerous things happen, ask anyone. Someone once forgot to pick up my birthday cake from the bakery before it closed and I had to retreat to a corner of the room and be consoled by scooping frosting straight from the store bought tub while flipping through a glossy tabloid magazine. It was ugly.
For birthday celebrations, we line the dining room walls with balloons and a cheesy, dollar store birthday sign. Our table is covered in snacks and beverages most loved by the one celebrating, and the gifts are wrapped and spread among the munchies.
On the morning of the birthday, we play “Birthday” from the Beatles White Album while the evening is spent enjoying the birthday person’s favorite meal and dessert. Whether we eat sushi or sliced pizza, pancakes, or pecan pie, no one is allowed to complain about the food choice.
During financial fluctuation the contents on the table have decreased and meal choices have had to be priced under budget, but the tradition continued. On a few occasions, we have been out of town and have had to get creative, but the tradition continued.
While our children might say, “We don’t do anything for birthdays,” I know better. I know that we do. And while our kids may go off to college, a career out of state, or their own families, and have to celebrate their birthday outside our home, there is no doubt that they will remember what we have done, and the tradition that we have set in place.
Whether they are cultural, simple, passed on from family, or made up on your own, build traditions. Whether your tradition is Friday family night, mashed potato and movie Mondays, big birthday party blow out, every evening walk, or Christmas Eve soup and sandwiches, build traditions. And, if you happen to ask your child about their favorite family tradition and they reply, “We don’t have any,” ignore them and grab yourself a tub of frosting from the grocery store and a glossy tabloid magazine because, you know better.