The first one involves a little cake and a lot of mess.
It’s baby’s one-year birthday celebration. She is placed in her highchair with her very own birthday cake and permission to shove it into her face with wild abandon. My family album boasts a couple of pictures of that ritual, and they are priceless.
In elementary school, planning the right birthday party is sometimes more elaborate, and may involve taking several children on an outing.
When my kids were little, a pizza shop with mechanical bears that randomly popped out of nowhere playing instruments and singing at decibels that make dogs howl was a popular party destination. It was the kind of place no adult would ever go to alone — except to hide from the authorities.
Adult birthdays are quite a different animal. If you know your birthday person’s wishes, you can plan just the perfect bash – or they will plan their own, depending on their style.
A friend of mine recently celebrated her birthday by attending a vineyard for a wine tasting. We decided it was a grown up’s version of a party with singing bears. And of course, that’s the kind of place no child can go to alone, without hiding from the authorities.
My partner was a good sport during his last birthday party at a restaurant his grandkids picked out. It was the kind of place where they come out and sing to you and put a mask over your head. The music was so loud, everyone at the table wanted masks over their heads too. There were ten other birthdays that night, and no ear plugs to be found. I think if he’d had a little cake, there would have been a lot of mess.
Not everyone wants to celebrate their birthdays, and some do not want anyone to know their age, making a surprise 50th birthday party a bad idea. Too many people who are good at math will remember attending it a few years ago, and let the cat out of the bag.
But for those who dread and complain about their birthdays, perhaps some birthday therapy is in order. The standard retort is that it’s “better than the alternative.” Maybe taking the reluctant birthday person to a cemetery would help drive that point home. It would be like an off-season showing of “This is your life” … the final chapter.
Now, wouldn’t you rather have a little cake?