(Well hey there, blog. Long time no see.)
Birthdays and holidays have always been a pretty big deal in my family. We celebrate birthday seasons- calling to get wish lists and planning dinners and parties weeks in advance. Christmas traditions are treasured, taken out and dusted off every year with each ornament, stocking, ice-skating bear figurine, and advent calendar. But while Christmas has always topped my list of favorite holidays, there was nothing that I looked forward to as a child quite as much as my own birthday. There is something to be said for a day that is a celebration of being born that I think resonates with my ego quite nicely. But I also must attribute my love for birthdays to two other things- my mother and the Penny Whistle Party Planner.
The PWPP is a book that my mom took out every year the month or so before mine or one of sister's birthdays (although I don't think that either of them would argue that I was (am?) far and away the most enthusiastic about it). Each chapter of the book is dedicated to a different party theme. The authors give ideas for everything from invitations to games to food that incorporates your theme of choice. And we got INTO IT. Some of my favorite parties include:
1. My first ever theme party was a Swan Lake party when I was quite little (3 or 4 I think... Mom could confirm). One of my first dance teachers, who was a professional dancer at the time, came over and taught all of us little ones a "Swan Lake variation", in which I was of course featured as the lead swan (I won't go so far as to call myself Odette, but I was kind of prodigy, y'all). Everyone got little clear plastic swans filled with candies and my mom made all of the girls their own little tutus and we performed for everyone's parents at the end. As mother to a little girl now I can only imagine how ridiculously stinkin' cute that must have been. Oh, and I had a Barbir cake with a real Barbie in it. The cake was her skirt. Not theme appropriate, but awesome.
2. Pig Party. I went through quite a pig phase in middle school. I had a ton of the suckers... stuffed one, figurines, calendars, you name it. (I still have some of them... they are now in residence in Laine's room.) So of course my birthday party had to be pig themed. We had no-handed jello eating contests, pig calling contests, and some relay race type game involving a pink balloon and crawling...
3. Artist Party. My friend Christin still gets props from my family for her own personal dedication to this theme- she came wearing a scarf and beret with a little swirly mustache painted on her face. We had an older kid from my fine arts school draw portraits of all of us (we still have mine somewhere, and I know some of my friends have theirs as well), and of course there was all sorts of craftiness.
4. Kidnapped Party. We did this for my 13th birthday (Yes, the theme parties lasted that long. I'm not ashamed.) and it is probably my all-time favorite party idea. It's basically a reverse surprise party- the only person that knows about it is the guest of honor. My mom contacted all of the guests parents and told them to have a toothbrush and small travel bag ready the morning of the party. We (my sisters and I) woke up really early and piled into the Suburban and went one by one to "kidnap" each girl from their bed. Then we returned home with six or so bed-headed, pajama clad 13 year old girls and had a breakfast feast.
This year I'm turning 26. Not really an exciting number: no milestones, no special privileges and no expectations of any kind of crisis. But that's never mattered in my family. Birthdays may seem trivial to other people, but my mother taught me early that every year is special one and deserves to be celebrated. And as much as I loved all of those parties and owe so much thanks to my mom for all of the time and effort she put in to make them special every year, I thank her even more for teaching me that, and for making me feel that the day of my birth was, and is, cause for so much celebration.