Birthday parties for children are completely out of hand.  I have been to birthday partires for two year olds with ponies, pinatas, bounce houses, huge water slides, kegs, catering, tents, and hired babysitters.  I have seen children flail themselves upon colourful package upon colourful package, ripping the paper to shreds, then casting the disposable and pointless gift to the side, just to see what’s next.  I have then seen that same child sit upon a pile of opened presents so that none of the other children at the party can play with them.  I have seen children drink three juice boxes, eat two pieces of cake, and then nothing but chips and candy for snacks…then exhaust themselves in wild and semi-supervised play.

I have to admit that as an adult, I have fully enjoyed myself at some of these parties, in close comraderie with other parents, as we watched our children’s party clothes get covered in dirt and chocolate.  I’ve sat by the keg, or at the foot of a water slide, making small talk and ripping a 20th piece of candy out of my child’s hands.  I’ve not wanted to leave, I was having such a great grown-up time.

However, I can never sit well with how this environment is for children.  Little children, who do not censor what they experience, become overloaded and spoiled.  What does the birthday mean, but a chance to over-indulge the “I WANT” monster that each of us has inside of ourselves?  It’s a life moment sacrificed at the altar of materialism.  It was that way when I was young, and it only seems worse now.  My generation of parents seem largely asleep to what they are creating when they make an event out of giving a child every fleshly desire amidst an orgy of stimulation and overindulgence.  If something is marketed for “Children”, then it must be okay, right? 

Where has our inherent human and spiritual wisdom gone?  Do we even authentically see the souls of these little ones entrusted to our care?  Have we abdicated our parental responsibilities so much that we just do what the Jones’s do, accept whatever the “experts” are telling us today?  Where is the awe, the sacrifice, the willingness to change our lives because now we are PARENTS?!

Because of this, we decided to celebrate Crazy Matas’s second birthday with just us, at home, actually on his birthday.  We didn’t need to send any invitations, get cheap party favours, or rent a clown.  No expensive cakes or kegs.

We woke up in the morning, and woke the little Birthday Man with a “happy birthday, now you’re two”.!  We talked about it through the day.  We told the story of the day he was born, starting when he was in Heavenly Garden with G-d, looking over the earth for parents he could call his own.  Then, the children and I went walking to a place where wildflowers grow along the side of the road.  We picked a nice bouquet, and went home to decorate his birthday table together.  I asked him what he wanted for his birthday dinner, and he said “pasta and salad”.  So that’s what we made.  When daddy came home from work, Janka Fairy and I went out to buy him a small 10 dollar cake.  In restrospect I would have made him one, but I wanted the day to be easy.  We had a lovely family meal, then special books of Crazy Matas’s choosing in mommy and daddy’s bed.

He has been asked, “what did you get for your birthday”, and he proudly answers, “I’M TWO!”  That’s what he got for his birthday….an experience and celebration of his turning two.  That’s all it was about, and as of now, it is the most precious birthday memory I have so far since having children. 

I have definitely “seen the light”…and all of our birthdays are going to be celebrated like this.  So, if you are invited to a celebration at my house, just bring a feather, a rock, a personal story, a little picture drawn with crayons, but we don’t want any STUFF.  Just share with us in this beautiful marking of a life growing before our eyes…G-d’s own miracle.

Lighting the Candles for Crazy Matas's Birthday Blessing

Lighting the Candles for Crazy Matas's Birthday Blessing

Birthday CakeBlowing out candleMatas's Birthday TableMMMM salad goodLittle Crazy Matas's birthday ring

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