On Wednesday we celebrated our little girl’s first birthday, our first year as parents, and the first day of 2014. The Simple Party was exactly how I pictured it: a peaceful, loving gathering of people who have been in Baby G’s entourage since Day One. All but three guests were at the hospital to meet her the moment she was born. The remaining three either lived too far away to be there, or weren’t born yet, in the case of G’s 5-month-old cousin.
I did wonder from time to time, in the days leading up to the birthday party, if I was being lazy and making my daughter’s birthday an afterthought of Christmas. Perhaps if her birthday was in May or August and not New Year’s Day, I’d have gone all out with handcrafted decor, a clever theme, homemade cake, tons of guests. You know what I’m talking about. I felt a pang of guilt now and then wondering if the holidays left me too burnt out on decorating, shopping and baking to focus on my little girl’s birthday.
And perhaps that is the case – but I see it differently now. The fact that her birthday is a week after Christmas helped me tone things down, and that’s a good thing. I have a tendency to go overboard with things like this. I have the impulse to make every party food from scratch, to create homemade gifts, to make everything big and grand and perfect. Like I said the other day, I’m finding the beauty in simplicity, that less is more, and that small moments are the most important.
And her party was perfect. I was not frazzled because I didn’t spend all morning in the kitchen. We threw up a few streamers and balloons I had purchased at Dollar Tree the day before. We did all of the set up and decorating during her morning nap. I turned some Muppets music on Pandora, and the few guests showed up not looking to be fed or entertained, but to celebrate the first year of our precious girl’s life. The two dozen tamales we ordered from a taqueria down the street were a hit. Conversation was relaxed and comfortable and there was not an unfamiliar pair of arms for Baby G to be held by.
She didn’t even know it was her birthday, and she won’t remember the day. But she had a blast, and we have pictures to prove it. When it came time to eat cake, she was so worn out from all the play and present opening that she just cried in her high chair, so instead of cake time, she had nap time.
I’m sure when she’s older, she’ll want themed birthday parties with all her little friends from school, and I’ll have a blast planning it. I remember one of my preschool aged birthday parties was “Little Mermaid” themed, and we threw water balloons at a picture of Ursula that my parents painted themselves on a huge piece of plywood. Days before the party, my dad sat in front of the TV, watching the film and pressing “record” on a tape player during each song so we could have a soundtrack for the Big Day. This was obviously before iTunes.
That stuff is gold. But this year, the Simple Party was perfect. Because it fell on the first day of the year, I feel like it has set a nice pace for 2014. Intimate, peaceful, simple & real. I don’t make resolutions, but those are the words I’m meditating on as we launch into another year.