Sunday, 3 April 2011

Let Them Eat Cake

Three times I went into the hospital when there was snow on the ground, and all three times I came out with a healthy baby and no more snow.  I love this time of year.

In our house, birthdays are a HUGE BIG DEAL.  Everything goes to you on your birthday. You even get automatic shotgun.

You choose what we have for breakfast, what music we listen to, and of course, there are parties, gifts, friends, family and cake.  Some years there has been a birthday trip to Dairy Queen for each kid, other years we have combined celebrations and taken a birthday trip on an airplane. 

There is one thing, though, that I would never do on my kids' birthdays and that is bring charity into it.
 It has become trendy of late to include with your Dora the Explorer or Iron Man 3 invitation a folded slip of paper saying something like:  "Instead of gifts, Missy has decided to ask for donations to Kids without Smiles."  

The first time this happened to me, I totally fell for it. 

I sent my donation off to Adults without Borders, or Floods without Fires or whatever it was. We get to the party and I see everyone getting out of the car bearing wrapped gifts.  I was confused. 

Once inside, I quickly found out the story.  Yes, we all donated to the Help a Kid Foundation, but we couldn't possibly show up at the party without a gift for little Joey.  So that's how it works.  We have to donate to the charity, AND, we have to bring a little something for the birthday boy.  

I didn't like it.  

I didn't like the unwritten message that I needed to provide two gifts - a cheque for the charity and a Bionicle for the kid. I also felt like there was a presumption that I wouldn't give to charity unless I was invited to your birthday party.  Like I need you to show me how it's done. 

Furthermore, I think it's a bit ridiculous that the parents felt the best way to teach their child about charity was to make me give charity.  If you want to do good work with your kids I'm all for it.  But don't send me to the food bank.  You gotta deliver them meals yourself.

There are, at last count, and realignment of the planets notwithstanding, 365 days of the year.  That means there are 364 days to think of everyone else in the world and only one day that's all about you.  We can spend the 364 days walking for  Penniless Puppies, selling ribbons for Mothers Against Sexting, or drinking tap water.  Specifics are up to you.  

But on my kids birthday?  No way.  I say let them choose the music, sit in the front seat, open their gifts, and hey - Let Them Eat Cake.


  1. I love comments - esp. where you agree with me - but please don't use my real name or my kids' real names when you post! Thanks.

  2. totally with you on that. even if it means letting my kids get more melty-beads or a forbiden-at-my-house Hanna Montana tshirt, it's THEIR birthday. But, we do have a tradition at our house: from all the bday presents you get, you pick one to give to charity. It can be a double, or something you wouldn't play with. Usually it ends up being the smallest most insignificant one, but that is totally fine.

  3. Ok. You're right! You made me laugh out loud. It really is a ridiculous trend. After all, what kid doesn't love ripping open all those presents?

    But, if you're invited to a party and the invitation specifies donations not gifts, then don't show up with a gift.

    And if you're the only one who shows up without a gift, take heart, you did exactly what the hostess asked you for and maybe, just maybe, she's relieved that she doesn't need to find room for any more stuff!

    Bottom line:

    If we want to teach our kids about giving we need to model the behaviour: We need them to SEE us giving. They need to know that we're on a committee or hear about the donations we've made. There are ample opportunities to instill these values -- school and sports team fundraisers, etc -- without taking birthday fun away from your kids.

  4. my daughter was invited t a party this weekend of a kid who has EVERY toy under the sun and really doesn't need more. so the mom asked us to make donations. So now other mothers are saying that they can't possibly show up to an 8yr old girls b-day party w/o a gift. i made a donation but now a few mothers are ALSO buying a gift b/c they don't want this little girl not to have any presents on her b-day. i feel compelled to buy a small gift now so that my daughter isn't the only one who shows up w/o a gift.

  5. Maybe you need to print out a copy of this blog posting and include it with your gift ;)