As a child, my birthday was often celebrated with an adult family member that had a birthday just a day or two from mine. I don't remember much about them, but there are several years worth of photos of the two of us side by side with our birthday cakes. One, in particular, has always delighted me - I am probably 4 or 5-year's old, posing behind my Barbie Doll cake, and next to me, with a beer in hand, is my uncle, with a classic 1970's 'bikini cake', which, as I recall, required the integration of two Hostess Snowball snack cakes for the top.
The teenage years centered on friends and less family, and as I have aged, I don't have many specific memories, other than a trip to Benihana on my 18th, that included a broken English version of the birthday song, and a truck and tractor pull for my 21st. I am still amazed at the things my boyfriends thought I would enjoy.
I am content that this time in my life has brought celebrations back to family, with Boom at college, I have a constant reminder that it really won't be that long before all the kids are gone. I appreciate that the years have brought contentment in simpler things, a place many people never seem to reach.
I sometimes feel guilty that I am not a big party planning mom. We shuttle the kids to a select few birthday parties each year, but don't reciprocate with lavish bashes. Instead, we typically celebrate smaller, and more family-oriented than other people do. Easter this weekend will center around a family meal, and our annual family egg hunt that includes prize coupons for extravagant things like getting out of chores, extra dessert, and mild sibling torture (the 'make my bed' coupon is popular).
I hope my kids grow to value family over store bought fun. I hope that a raucous game of Yahtzee or corn hole in the yard outshines Chuck E Cheese skeeball or an afternoon at a trampoline park. Sure, there is fun to be had for a price, but my hope is that my kids will see more value in family, and the fleeting time we have to spend with them.