Monday, April 21, 2008

Birthday =/= Party + Presents

“No, dear, we won’t invite your friends over for your next birthday,” I answered gently to my seven-years-old daughter whilst fetching her back from her classmate’s birthday party.

“But why? Xuet Li (her classmate) had it?” my little girl found it unfair.

“Yeah, but can you tell me why did she have a party today?”

“Because … it’s her birthday today.”

That’s exactly why I disagree having a party of any sorts to celebrate her birthdays. It doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do, as long as the earth keeps turning, that particular day is going to come every year (except if it falls on the 29th of February). And there is no particular reason to be happy about it. Where is the celebration without any achievement? So, I was never of the opinion that we should make a big fuss over a birthday, for the sake of birthday alone.

I have never bought her birthday presents either. At her tender age, ideas are easily rooted into her mind from what she sees or hears, my gift for her would simply be four words - no pain, no gain. Apart from love from family and friends, you have to earn what you want, no rewards without hard works, hence no present for a birthday that is going to happen regardless.

Birthday =/= party + presents, if I manage to put that “in-equation” into her belief, I’ll probably yet gifted her by saving her some unhappy days in the future when her friends, or boyfriend, forget her birthday. If somebody throws a party for her, Yipee! If somebody gives her presents, Hooray! But if none of the above happens, nothing to cry over either. Hopefully, her happiness will not be solely dependent on others’ action or inaction; she should be able to find her happiness from within by being thankful for what she has in her hands, and having the confidence to achieve what she wants through her talents and hard work.

When my two kids have these beliefs indoctrinated into their mind, I’ll get some Yipees and Hoorays for their birthdays. But until then, we would still get our children a cake and have it after dinner with the family on their birthdays. But, to me, we’re not celebrating their birthdays, we are celebrating the gains that we have, out of the pains that their mother went through on those particular days many years ago. The mother should be the one to blow out the candles and cut the cake. But for their sake, we let them do it. But I hope, in the future, they’ll realize the true meaning of birthday, and give their mother a hug and perhaps a present. But before that, I’ll be thankful, and savour every bite of the cake with the sight of my family sitting together enjoying a meal.

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