When I was a child, birthdays were fairly simple affairs. We dressed in our Sunday clothes, went to our friend’s home, played games like pin the tail on the donkey, ate cake and ice cream, got a favor bag, and went home. By the time I had my first daughter, it was obvious things had changed. No longer did you have a party at home – unless you had transformed your backyard to a petting zoo complete with pony rides – you had to go somewhere. Each year seemed to get larger in scope and more elaborate. It was no longer a one hour, cake and ice cream, simple affair.
Not only are the parties a big deal, but the presents from family and friends have escalated as well. Although my daughters don’t care, I am one that likes to keep things even in the gift department. Ten years ago, when my first grandchild arrived, it was all I could do not to buy every little thing I saw for her. Living only 90 miles away, it was easy to visit often and, of course, take a small gift. On her first birthday, it was time for a big gift. Three years later when her brother (the first boy in the family) arrived, it was time to do the same for him.
Now, with four additional fabulous grandkids and possibly more to come, I probably should have rethought my initial zealous gift giving. Of course, I also like to honor my daughters, sons-in-law, and husband throughout the year, but especially on their special day. I started looking at the calendar and realized there were very few months that didn’t have at least one birthday in it. One in January, one in February, March has four, two in April, two in June, two in August, one in October, and one in December, and then, of course, there is Christmas.
I blame my mom for being even-Steven. She was always a wonderful and generous gift giver. Whatever she spent on my sister, it was the same for me. She also did that for her five granddaughters. Even though she lived in Florida, while her granddaughters lived in Virginia and North Carolina, she made sure they felt her presence.
So, will I change my gift giving ways? Not as long as I am able to. It gives me such joy and pleasure to see their faces light up for even the simplest item. I don’t know a child that doesn’t love to get a gift – big or small. I know that my grandchildren love me and would whether I spent five dollars on a gift or five hundred. For it isn’t the gift itself, but the thought that goes into it. More important than the gift, it is knowing that I love them deeply, love being with them, and want them to be able to tell me what’s important to them, what is going on in their lives, and know that I will always be there for them whenever they need me. If my daughters never gave me another thing, they have given me the best gifts ever in my beautiful grandchildren. Besides, isn’t a little spoiling part of a grandmother’s job?
Well, May is one of the months with no birthdays, but I need to start thinking about the two in June – they’ll be here before I know it. At least I don’t have to plan the parties – or pay for them!