Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Celebrating Life, Celebrating Without a Birthday Party

God gave me and my husband a miracle four years ago.  We fondly call our miracle YANTHY.  He came unexpectedly.  He came and God used him powerfully to teach me and my husband that He is in control and that everything happens at a time He chooses.  Through him, God showed us that as we put God first in our family and obey God's commands, God will provide for our needs and show us His graciousness. 

Yanthy at the nursery right after birth.
It has been four years already.  But I continue to be amazed and feel so loved everytime I ponder on this miracle that God has blessed us with.  I thank the Lord for giving me this child.  I thank God for each day in this child's life that He has allowed me to witness and have an active part.  I thank God for the many lessons He has taught me through the years as I took care of him.  Caring for him and raising him is a privilege I will always cherish.  May God continue to direct my steps and empower me so I could be the best mom my son could ever have.

Yanthy's first birthday party at Congo Grille, El Pueblo.
We celebrated Yanthy's birthday this year differently.  No birthday party just like in the past three years.  But we're celebrating it for the entire month.  I planned to buy him a toy he likes every week and some books that he likes and needs.  During the first week, I bought him a doctor play set which he can use for his pretend plays.  The next toy I will buy him on the third week of the month is a grocery push cart and some plastic grocery items, fruits and vegetables.  One of his favorite pretend plays is playing store/grocery.

My husband and I agreed that we will not organize a birthday party anymore for our eldest son this year.  We instead had a simple birthday lunch with his grandparents (my parents) and my brother last Sunday, the day before his birthday.  A couple of months ago, I asked my son where he'd like to celebrate his birthday and he said that he wants to spend it in San Mateo with my parents and brother.  So we granted his request.  We also spent the afternoon that same day shopping for the things that he needs and likes.  Instead of spending our money on a birthday party, we spent our alloted budget for his birthday celebration on clothes, toys, books and other things that he needs and likes at this time.  This is also timely since his younger brother will be celebrating his first birthday next month.
Family lunch at Max's Restaurant, San Mateo, Rizal on the day before Yanthy's 4th birthday.
The following day, on the day of his birthday, he woke up with me, his Dad and his baby brother singing the birthday song to him.  We had late breakfast as a family after the birthday boy had some time to open and enjoy his gifts and new toys.  We then had late lunch at Congo Grille.  It's the same restaurant where we celebrated his first birthday but not the same branch.  I would have wanted to bring him to the branch where we had it three years ago but it's quite far from where we live right now and we woke up late that day so we simply went to the branch nearest our place.  I think it was a blessing in disguise that we were near this branch because it was like we reserved the place.  There was only one table occupied when we ate at the restaurant.  We shared with Yanthy that we had his first birthday party at Congo Grille also but in a different branch.  It made him happy and he said that next time/next year, he wants to eat in the branch where we had his first birthday party.  We had our pictures taken inside the restaurant and outside. 

Family lunch at Congo Grille, Walter Mart, Sucat on Yanthy's birthday.

Then, we proceeded to The Fort to grant another wish of our birthday celebrator.

Yanthy loves playing at play centers.  He enjoys playing, running, bouncing and sliding in these play areas for hours.  We decided that he will have hours of playtime at Active Fun (The Fort branch) on his birthday.  We got him an unlimited play ticket and allowed him to play for the afternoon.  He started playing at around 3:30 PM.  By 6 PM, his Dad called him and asked him to go out already.  He stayed for a few more minutes before finally going out.  I think it was already 6:15 PM when he finally stopped playing.  The last time we were there, he played until closing time!  
While Yanthy was playing at Active Fun, I went around (together with Mateo in our Ergobaby carrier) the Toys R Us branch in the same building.  I bought him a toy he liked so much -- a trumpet!  I had it gift-wrapped.  Later after he played, we told him it's his baby brother's birthday gift for him. 

Yanthy at 1 year old
and his birthday cake.
We went to Mass at 7 PM at the Greenbelt chapel.  This is one of our family traditions during birthdays, going to Mass as a family. 

We had dinner at Red Ribbon, SM Sucat where Yanthy got to blow candles on his birthday cake (another tradition we started or our kids' birthdays) before going home.
4 year old Yanthy blowing the candles on his cake.

Yanthy opened Mateo's gift when we got home.  He tried it right away!
Yanthy shows off Mateo's gift to him.
Let me summarize and enumerate some ideas for a simple but fun birthday celebration minus the birthday party:
1. Celebrate with a simple family lunch or dinner.  You can also choose to have your lunch or dinner at the same restaurant where your child had his/her first birthday or baptismal reception. You can relive the memories by telling stories to your child of what happened during his/her first birthday party.
2. Involve your child in planning the family activities on his/her special day.  Let the child choose from among parent-approved choices. ;)  In our case, we let our son play at Active Fun and visit my parents and brother in san Mateo.
3. Use part of your budget for your child's birthday celebration to buy things that he/she likes. Some parents let their kids choose between having a party and letting the child spend a budget on things the child wants to buy.  Of course, we limit our kid's choices to those toys which are within our budget and those that we think are age-appropriate.  From there, we let him choose.
4. Buy things that the child needs as gifts.  An example of this is the new water bottle we bought our son with Cars design.  His old bottle has plenty of scratches already.  We retired it a few months back but did not replace right away to teach him a lesson on taking care of his things.  We wanted to reinforce the lesson that he should take care of his things so that he can use them longer. Thus, when his bottle got broken, we delayed buying him a new one.  We also bought him new shirts and socks to replace those he outgrew.  The other things we will buy for him this month are the books that he needs and we will use in homeschooling him.
5. Give your child the gift of your time and undivided attention.  Our days can be so hurried everyday.  It could happen that there are days when parents hardly have time to listen to their children's stories, play with them or eat/share meals with them.  We can take this opportunities to make our children feel loved and important by setting aside this day, their birthday, to celebrate God's gift of life to them.
Birthday celebrations need not be expensive all the time.  I believe that what is important is that we are able to give thanks as a family for God's gift of life.  Simple birthday celebrations teach our kids (and remind us parents) to be thankful for our blessings, big and small alike.  They also teach us that quality time spent with our families are far more important than big and expensive parties (where we usually spend only a few minutes with our guests and kids because there are so many guests to entertain) and toys.  Lastly, these can be opportunities to teach our kids about money and how to wisely spend it.  To read more on how to teach kids to be thankful, I recommend that you click here.
Happy Birthday once more to my dearest Yanthy!  I'm glad that you were very happy on your birthday and in the past days even though you did not have a birthday party this year.

1 comment:

  1. I agree, our child really needs our love, care, attention and more. A simple yet very memorable celebration with a gift is already perfect.

    Gifts for Him