Three out of the four people living in my house have fall birthdays. My husband and I often joke that our wedding anniversary in August is the kick-off to the holiday season in our home, as we have birthdays in September, October, and November, of course followed by Christmas and all the chaos that comes with that.
In the decade that I’ve known my husband, birthdays have been a rather hotly debated topic of discussion. I grew up with parents who were all about birthday celebrations. My mother began our birthdays by blasting The Beatles “Birthday” song from the White Album in the morning. We had a special breakfast, often found a special note and dessert in our lunchbox, came home to a special dinner, then, of course, we ate cake. If your birthday was on, say, a Wednesday, and your birthday party was on the following Saturday, you still got cake on that Wednesday. Because cake that isn’t served on your actual birthday doesn’t count for 100%. Besides, who argues with more cake? No one.
My husband grew up with more, shall we say, reasonable birthday expectations. Cake happens at your party, and you get to pick out dinner on your birthday or go out to eat at a restaurant. He has suggested, at times, that my birthday expectations are unreasonable. He has gently reminded me that most people don’t make such a giant deal over every single birthday. While I know compromise is an important part of successful relationships, I have gently reminded him that he is, in fact, wrong on this. We will be making a big deal about all birthdays, every year. Why? Partly because I want my sons to have wonderful memories of feeling special on their birthdays, and partly because I want them to grow up to be men who make a big deal about their spouses’ and children’s birthdays.
In the early years of our relationship, my husband didn’t really “get” the importance of birthday surprises to me. He figured a nice, expensive dinner would get him off the hook. He was wrong. The money behind it means nothing to me. I’d rather have a birthday filled with fun, completely free special touches than an expensive dinner out. To me, it really is the thought that counts.
So, since I determined I’d be the one to set the birthday tone in our house, this is what the birthday people in our house can expect:
*You will get to choose your breakfast, lunch, and dinner on your birthday. The birthday person shall not have to prepare these meals. If he or she prefers, the birthday person may ask to be surprised by the family for these meals, in which case, the other family members shall work together. Take-out is totally acceptable.
*There shall be some form of decorating done secretly the night before a family member’s birthday. It might be flowers, balloons, or streamers. Or, this little gem might make an appearance on the front lawn to announce to the world that there’s a birthday in your house today:
*Your family will become familiar with your favorite birthday cake and do their best to provide it, even if it’s not everyone else’s favorite. My husband loves Dairy Queen ice cream cakes; I adore Mozzicato’s Italian cream cake. He doesn’t love my choice and I don’t love his, but we still provide it without complaint.
*Even if you are planning to celebrate on the weekend, your family will provide a special birthday dessert on your actual birthday if it’s on a weekday, including but not limited to: cupcakes, pie with ice cream, or of course, cake.
*The birthday person will be thankful to the rest of the family members for making their day special, and they will happily do the same for their family members when their birthdays come around.
That’s all! It sounds relatively simple, but to me, it’s a big deal. My husband’s birthday is coming up, and I can’t wait to work with the kids to plan a special day for him. I hope my boys look back on these traditions with fond memories of their own crazy mother and her birthday celebration shenanigans!