For Grace’s first birthday, I planned a theme. I designed and sent invitations, hung decorations, blew up helium balloons, and made two cakes – one for the party guests and one for Grace.
I left no detail to chance. Elmo the cake was red inside. When I cut the cake, he looked like he was bleeding. It reminded me of the awful armadillo groom’s cake from Steel Magnolias.
The wrapping paper, the plates and cups, the birthday girl’s outfits (both of them), the decorations – everything – had Elmo on it. She even received a few Elmo gifts.
I know because I have photos of her opening every. single. gift.
Grace’s birthday is the week after Memorial Day, so the weather was turning warm. We served lunch, a cookout of hamburgers and hot dogs and several kinds of salad and cheese.
The party was nice.Â Everyone who came had fun. Grace got lots of cool and useful and interesting toys.
Allie turned one last week; I didn’t plan a first birthday party for her.
Some time in mid-December, Joe asked when we should have Allie’s first birthday. Since the weekend options were Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, we decided on New Year’s Eve. That was the last time we talked about it.
The day before New Year’s Eve, Joe asked again when we should have Allie’s first birthday. I looked at him blankly.
“I don’t know. When should we have it?” I asked him.
I never did choose, abdicating the decision to the combined brainpower of my sister and Joe. They decided 2 o’clock.
There was no theme. There were no decorations, no balloons, no fancy cakes, no invitations – personalized or otherwise. We didn’t even wrap her birthday present, an awesome cat toy that runs around and says, “Chase me, catch me!” and a bunch of other things.
Because Nana gave Allie a Birthday Girl onesie for Christmas, she wore a special outfit.
We had Christmas with my older sister and niece after Allie’s party, so Grace got presents, too.
And, worst of all, the cake was a miserable failure. I burned it. The frosting melted and fell flat. Lame, lame, lame.
Despite the lack of decorations, lack of invitations, lack of planning and details and perfection, Allie had a marvelous day. She collapsed, exhausted almost an hour before her normal bedtime.
The party was nice.Â Everyone who came had fun. Allie got lots of cool and useful and interesting toys (including some that Grace got for her first birthday).
It has taken me a long time – most of a year – to realize that the details don’t matter.
The details are totally irrelevant.
Our life is very different now than it was four years ago. The girls are different. Their parties were different.
I’m not beating myself up over the grand party or the almost non-party.
The results were exactly the same, and that’s all that matters.
© 2012, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.