Why Birthdays Matter




I remember my eldest daughter’s second birthday.  I bought her one of those adorable little birthday tutu’s and a little happy birthday shirt with tulle all over it.  We decorated the entire house.  My husband left late for work that day because he wanted to see her expression when she came down the stairs into her birthday wonderland.  Her favorite part was the balloons, and I have a very clear and vivid picture in my head of her staring up at the balloons, a look of pure joy written all over her face.

We do holidays big in our house.

Everywhere I go, I hear people talking about how they try to save some sanity by scaling back on holidays — less decorations, smaller parties, fewer presents.  And I think there’s some validity to that.  I definitely would never condone anyone going into debt or giving themselves an ulcer over a holiday or a birthday.

That being said, I am a very strong believer in the power of celebration.  I believe in celebrating loud and celebrating big.  I believe in birthday weeks rather than days.

Today, that same little girl turned five.  It blows my mind how quickly five years have gone.  And so, in our traditional fashion, I bought out the decorations from the store.  We have a fancy tablecloth, loads of balloons, a sparkly “Happy Birthday” chandelier and multiple different banners and buntings.

I had the whole day planned.  We were going to wake up, and I would go running in the girls’ room screaming “Happy Birthday!”  I would spend the day telling my daughter how special she is to me.  She would wear her new dress, and we would head out to the local children’s museum where the kids would run around and play for hours.  When they were all tuckered out, we would come home and have a peaceful dinner with Daddy and Grandma.  Then we would open presents, do cake, and have a whole lot of singing and dancing and merriment.

It was going to be perfect.  It would be the perfect day celebrating my most perfect oldest child.

But then reality happened.  The baby was up every hour all night, and so my bouncing into their room in the morning was more like a groggy trudge down the hall.  We were much later to the children’s museum than we had planned because of the weather predictions which turned out to be inaccurate.  We had a good time at the museum, but there was a lot of stress and turmoil with one adult trying to wrangle three kids.  By the time we got home, everyone was sweaty and tired and very cranky.  The babies spent most of the evening in tears, and as I’m typing this, all three are upstairs with Daddy getting ready for bed, and there isn’t a dry eye up there.

We got to all the events I wanted to — the presents, the dinner, and the cake.  I told her all day how very much she meant to me.  But it wasn’t quite what I had in mind. I had imagined bliss and peace and celebratory spirit.  What I got was turmoil and stress and chaos.

And would I do it again?

You bet I would.

When our kids look back on their childhoods, they won’t remember the specific gifts or the exact decorations.  They won’t remember the flavor of the cake or how many candles adorned it.  What they will remember is how they felt.  They will remember the feelings of joy and anticipation.  They will remember feeling cherished and celebrated.  They will remember that little may they be, they are an important part of this world and they have a special place in it.  They will believe they are worth celebrating.

Do any of the specific details matter? Of course not.  But does the celebration matter?  More than anything.

Homepage feature image credit: Jessica Diamond




About Amanda Knapp

Amanda Knapp, M.A., is a stay at home mom to three little girls.  One day she looked around her life and realized that it was all going by much too quickly for her tastes.  She wasn’t finding the time to savor the moments and the lessons they had to teach.  So she started a blog to document it all, and she realized that through sharing these stories, she was finally able to really savor them.  Writing about being a mom actually made her more of a mom.  So she continued to write.  She shares these these writings on her blog, Indisposable Mama