Thursday, January 31, 2008

Birthdays and Holidays

People are starting to post about Valentine's Day. And this past Christmas seemed to have found us all in much better spirits than the year before. When did we start liking holidays again? Ha ha.

It seems like we all went through this two year funk where we were shouting about materialism and the hypocrisy of romance on one day a year...and then we just sort of decided that we liked holidays and...who cares? Or, at least, that's how I feel about it now. I wonder if this is part of growing up some more?

I think we need to celebrate more. Make a bigger deal out of special days because those are the days that stick with us. A few years back I had this incredible epiphany that "Everyone wants to feel special and noticed." And since then I've made a concerted effort to remember birthdays. I think birthdays are incredibly important to everyone, no matter what they may say. It's the one day of the year that is specifically theirs, and I think that deep down we all want to be remembered and drowned with attention. So birthdays are a big deal in the Brooke household. Big dinners, presents, friends, decorations, cake...always a staple on someone's special day around here. I'd hate to live in a world where my birthday was just another day...I've had two birthdays where almost everyone forgot it and it is one of the most depressing things to experience. Ever.

And really, how hard is it to send a card? You're out, what? Three dollars? (And that's a nice card, not the 48 cent ones I tend to buy at Wal-Mart.) Or a phone call...75 cents? But it means so much to the birthday person.

Holidays...we try to recognize those too, but I sat down one day and realized that there is a significant holiday in almost every month. It's bankrupting for us if we go all out for each one. But I do try to make sure that I do something with the princesses to celebrate; holidays are important to children. They love to make cookies and give them to their friends. I can do that once a month. (I'm building up a respectable cookie cutter collection!)

But I'm finding that I'm dismissing all the "materialism" accusations that accompany holidays now. What's so wrong with presents? And decorations and parties? We're not living our lives for these sporadic dates, but we are living lives. Lives that get tough, lives that can get monotonous, lives that need a spark of color. Lives that need joyful memories, which seem to come easier with celebrations.

I will never forget Bluebird's 2nd birthday. We was poh. No money. Her birthday presents consisted of some much needed clothing and five balloons. I was pregnant with Rabbit, so you can imagine what my energy level was...so no cake or anything; she wasn't going to remember it anyway, right?

Turns out it wasn't her that I needed to be worried about. As we got ready for bed that night, Mr. Brooke sighed and said that it had been one of the most depressing days of his life to not celebrate her birthday. And I realized that he needed the color of a birthday celebration in his life even if it wasn't his birthday. The poor guy was working and attending school full-time; his days were the same thing over and over...a birthday party would have really lifted his spirits. Dads need to see their children overjoyed and laughing and pointing in awe at their birthday cakes, I think it makes all that working to support the family a little more worthwhile to them.

After that night I made a resolution to celebrate more, even if things were tight. (It's probably even more important to find things to celebrate when money gets tight, just to keep up morale.) I'm not talking about spending gobs of money, but taking the pains to do special things--baking treats (which is inexpensive), put up some decorations (streamers will do if that's all you can afford), sign a card, make a special dinner...regular things that can take on the feel of celebration if done in a celebratory way. (Mr. Brooke loves to have his heart cookies in his lunch on Valentine's Day!)

Another thing: Balloons. Nothing says "celebration" like balloons. Birthdays are naked in our house without a bunch of balloons. Period. It is tradition to go pick out balloons for everyone's birthday. As a family. We're crazy obsessed with this, and the girls LOVE it. Friends love it, too. Balloons, balloons, balloons...I didn't stop loving getting them when I graduated high school. (Remember how cool you felt to receive balloons or flowers in the middle of class? I never received as many as the popular girls, but it didn't matter...I had something external to mark me as special to the world...until I had to take them to the office and leave them there for the rest of the day. How come the popular girls always got to keep theirs with them?)

I write this on the eve of the day I need to make all the stuff for Bluebird's birthday party, which is this Saturday. Honestly, I am not looking forward to trying to create a Little Einsteins Rocket cake, but she has been talking non-stop about the thing since the day after Christmas.

As a nine month pregnant woman, making cookies for the neighborhood preschool crowd is so NOT appealing to me...but I know that it's important to Bluebird, to Mr. Brooke and probably to the kids who are hoping we'll stop by their houses again this year. (I think we're the neighborhod equivalent of a Valentine's Day Santa Claus...we make really good heart cookies.) I'm sorry to my long distance family and pals, but I'm going to forgo the sending of Valentine's Day wishes in the mail because it's going to take all that I have just to celebrate it here in my home. (Do I ever wish that someone else in this neighborhood was as gung-ho about holidays as I was and would just take over this year!) (This goes against what I've been talking about in this post, but really, I just cannot do it all...I admit my massive weakness...and it is massive...mexican grandmothers are taking pity on me, for crying out loud.) Next year though...I have good plans, barring anything getting in the way.

I say we re-dedicate ourselves to celebrating birthdays and holidays like we did when we were children. Depending on our circumstances and energy levels throughout various years, the immensity of celebration will vary. But I think everyone would be a whole lot happier if they indulged their inner child on holidays a little more. I am thankful that I have had children, if only to re-introduce me to the magic that is celebration. Life is always good. But better with cake and balloons.

1 comment:

  1. I agree about the birthday thing. It is not so hard to at least send a card and sign your name, and it's always nice to at least get mail and be remembered 1 day out of the year. I try to make sure to always do that for friends and family. My family has never forgotten my birthday but lots of friends have. And it's no fun to be forgotten!

    Yay for holidays!

    ReplyDelete

Comments make me happy! Thanks for sharing!