Friday, September 9, 2011

It’s That Time of Year Again

It’s that time of year again when my husband’s birthday is just around the corner. Normally, I love planning birthdays. I love creating or thinking up “just the right gift.” However, Jeff, who is typically a most amiable fellow, can be very difficult to plan a birthday for.

When Jeff says he doesn’t want anything for his birthday, he means it. He doesn’t want stuff. Not anything. Nada. Nothing. Zero. Zilch. He’s the least materialistic person I know. But this can make for tricky birthday planning, especially when the kids really want to give Daddy something for his birthday.

For several years, I evaded this annual dilemma with the arrival of a new hobby. Jeff took up woodworking, which meant a whole new world in terms of tools required. Thus, every birthday, anniversary, and Father’s Day allowed the opportunity for me to find yet another piece of machinery for his workshop. The kids and I had a lot of fun with this, and I secretly suspect that Jeff did too.

These days, though, his workshop only requires the occasional saw-blade replacement. So I am back to square one when it comes to gift ideas. What do you get someone who doesn’t want anything?

Of course, the focus of any birthday celebration shouldn’t really be the presents. We’ve tried to emphasize this in our family as we have created our own family tradition for birthdays.

Yet, I must confess, it came about rather by accident.

Several years ago, I took the kids, who were toddlers at the time, to the nearest Party City. As we strolled the aisles, trying to pick out some festive – albeit masculine – birthday plates and napkins, my kids went chimpanzee on me when we came to the Little Einstein section of birthday paraphernalia.

This is obviously what they would have liked for their own birthday party, but they were convinced that Daddy would want the same thing. Needless to say, I went with it.

Daddy came home from work that night to a birthday dinner served on Little Einstein plates, complete with matching tablecloth, napkins, and cups. The kids loved it. So did I. And so did Jeff.

Our family birthday dinners have remained such ever since. The kids are no longer interested in Cinderella or Diego, but we still go with a new cartoon character for a themed family birthday dinner every year. And since there are five of us in our family, we do this five times a year.

So Jeff’s birthday is up next. The kids are voting for a Star Wars birthday. Again. It’s one of our favorites. But then there’s always the final question: what do we get him? He still doesn’t want anything.

I’m thinking we’ll probably give him the same thing we got him last year (and the year before): a Costco-sized jar of jellybeans, a mega-pack of his favorite chewing gum, and another case of his butter-free popcorn. We will have our Star Wars dinner, open our traditional “gifts,” and then watch a family movie while giving Daddy his own bowl of yucky popcorn.

Celebrating our birthdays the way we do is one of the things I’ve come to love most about our married life together. We’ve given each other permission not to stress about the whole gift-giving thing. And we’ve made it fun in a silly sort of way. The kids love it. Deep down, we do too.

Do you have a birthday tradition?


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