Birthdays And The Night
You Were Born
years, Birthdays in our home were very simple, simple. We invited
one friend and her parent or parents and my daughter Alicia’s dearly
beloved Grandma who she called “Gramma” who lived “down the road and
around the corner.” For a long time this was enough and for me I
was more than pleased that this could be enough. We always had a
birthday cake (which was either chocolate or ice cream) and as
sugary food was rarely seen in our house this was the biggest treat)
and very simple party food.
Anticipation of her Birthday was the big thing
for Alicia. The anticipation she felt of a friend coming, that it
was HER day and that the events of HER day would be different from
the other days. For many weeks this anticipation was enjoyed as
much as the actual Birthday itself. Almost better than the blowing
out of the candles ceremony and opening of the presents after
Alicia thought that her birthday was “the cake
ceremony”, not the whole day. On one of her birthdays she asked,
“When is my Birthday, Mum?” When I answered with “its today” that
did not compute with her. “No MUUUUM, when?” “It’s right now
it’s not, when IS IT?” Eventually the penny dropped when she said,
“When do we have the CAKE?” For her, the birthday was the cake, the
candles and the singing of Happy Birthday. Not the fussing, the
organizing, the people, the extra cleaning. Not the preparing for
the day, the games, the take home bags, the outdoing of other
peoples parties. That was it, that was all that was needed and she
was a real happy vegemite with the cake ceremony … and so was I.
We always planned The Cake Event for the
morning. People would say to us “isn’t this a bit early in the day
to have a party?” And it wasn’t … it is never too early in the day
to have a party and especially if you are a child to have to wait
and wait after all the anticipation that has been experienced the
waiting to start a party can overshadow the fun and excitement of it
all. Plus, I got to have plenty of time to relax afterwards with
Alicia and enjoy the new toys and presents and to talk about and
experience the pleasure of the events of the day. Reliving the
morning, talking about it over and over again, can fill in the
afternoon and the rest of the day until bedtime.
Alicia never knew parties could be a big event
with lots of games and lots of people until she was quite a bit
older. When we had these small event birthdays we had less dramas
less upsets and more fun. The smaller things gave the most pleasure
and were way less stressful.
One year we lashed out and had a party at a shop
that did fairy parties with a minimum of 10 children, plus a few
mums and dads. Most of the activities were rushed and in a cramped
space and not much party food was eaten. Accidents happened and
upsets appeared over misunderstandings and the cake was not the one
Alicia had seen arrive and this caused a big upset and teasing.
Every child but one got upset.
On the way home Alicia burst into tears, again.
She had received a lot of presents but not any that could actually
“play” with and because of the structure of the party she was not
able to unwrap the presents in front of the children who had given
them to her. After the expense, the organizing, the extra travel
she would have been happier with a few special friends, a cake
ceremony and just one toy she could have played with. We have never
had a large party since and we have not since had a hugely
structured party or gone to a venue for an event. And we always
unwrap the presents when everyone has arrived.
We sit in a circle and the birthday presents are
passed and given to the birthday person one at a time by the child
who brought them and then unwrapped and passed around for everyone
to look at and check out. This is a huge success as every one gets
to see who gave what and every present is handled and talked about
by everyone. The giver of the present is thanked and gets as much
as a thrill at the present receiver. This present ceremony is one
of the first things we do and usually starts off our parties.
One of our best and more simple and more easier
Birthdays when Alicia was older was soon after we moved from the
city. We were renting a “beach house”. We invited one friend from
the city and one new friend from the country. They both stayed for
most of the day. It was more of an “all day visit” party. Yes, we
had a cake, a small amount of party food and the present opening
ceremony. Alicia felt she was the birthday girl for the whole day.
She had the whole day to play with her new friend and to enjoy her
city friend whom she hadn’t seen for a while.
The day included a really pleasant walk along the
beach, which was “down the road and around the corner” from where we
lived and for Alicia this was the best part of the day and
surprisingly enough this was the event that she had anticipated the
The next year we had moved again and we were
renting a “farm house”. This home was on a sheep farm, with large
rooms and sheep in the back yard. At this party we introduced a few
games and threw a Frisbee around the back yard, which was really a
paddock and chased the sheep! This party was a huge success.
Guests were more than happy to travel the longer distance to the
farm and the mums sat on the back verandah and watched the party
from a distance, breathed in the fresh farm air and watched what it
is that sheep do.
All in all there is a lead up to birthdays. The
planning of the day, the deciding who will come and what we will eat
and most importantly what sort of Cake shall we make. Plus there is
one more important activity that we do on the night before a
I tell my daughters the story of their birth.
Well as much of it as I possibly can remember. And they are still
in awe of how they were born, because that is really what is their
birthday. As Alicia still reminds me, birthdays are really
anniversaries of the day they were born.
With Alicia, I tell her how I worked right up to the day before she
was born. How I worked right up to her birth in a three-story house
where I was climbing up and down the stairs and at the end of the
day I just fitted behind the steering wheel of my small green Mazda
121. As I was driving home my mantra was “please, please wait until
I get home, please, please, wait until I get home”. Alicia loves to
hear this. The story continues with how I was a week overdue and I
really was worried that contractions would start as I was driving
home (and as she was my first born I had no idea what contractions
would feel like and what sort of pain to expect, I just knew I did
not want them to happen on the freeway driving home in the rush
And there had been a standing joke that the next
day was free in our diaries and that would be a good day for her to
be born. When I had attended the pre-natal classes one of the
things I had learnt was that giving birth was like running in a
marathon and to eat marathon type food in the early stages of
labor. Well when I arrived home the first thing I said was “I think
I’ll make a large dish of pasta and cheese… and then I think I’ll go
Well I did all that and climbed into bed and
BINGO in the early hours of the morning contractions woke me up and
about 12 hours later Alicia was born, at 6.23 pm on the 23rd
of June. Catchy numbers!!! When I tell Alicia her birthday story,
I of course, sometimes go into more details like what getting to the
hospital was like, how the then hubby read newspapers until the last
minute and how adorable and good looking she was when she eventually
“squiggled out” after a natural birth where I did a lot of
I tell this story every year the night before her
birthday and embellish different parts, answer her questions and
find that the bond between us increases every time. I do this also
for my second daughter, Katrina-Lee and her story is quite different
as she was born in quite a rush, very quickly and in what seemed
like one long contraction that took three hours and there was she
was in the world with us. I was dropped off at the car park as her
dad thought all labors were the same and he had 12 hours of reading
newspapers to go.
Both my daughters love this part of their
Birthday celebrations and sometimes ask me to tell them their birth
story when it is not even their birthday, just to hear the wonder of
it all. Doing this has really enhanced the mother/daughter bond
that we have over all these years.
So if you want a simple, easy, country style
birthday here are some tips.
Step By Step
1/ When your child is
young, one or two invited guests plus parents can be enough for a
party, plus a beloved relative or two.
2/ Building up the
anticipation and reliving the event can be enjoyed over many days
3/ A Cake and Candle
Ceremony may be all that’s needed.
4/ Having the party in
the morning can relieve the tension of waiting and waiting.
presents. Have the party guests and birthday child sit in a
circle. Have the guests one at a time hand the present they have
brought to the birthday child who opens the present and then passes
it around the circle. This can be a great way to start the party.
6/ Even when your
child is older, smaller and little effort can still work, for
example, a walk on the beach, a trip to a special playground or
watching a movie.
7/ Tell your child the
story of the day or night they were born.
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