So birthday week had begun and the question from birthday boy was on why the celebrations weren’t initiated yet.. well, I have no one but me to blame for this expectation to have taken root.
You see, deep into the nationwide lockdown, when none except essential services were to venture out, was my little one’s birthday.. So we tried to do all we could to make it as less of a bummer as possible- well, we tried hard! Out came all the ancient streamers -pulled out of dusty lofts, along with the printer being put to good use until the cartridges faded to oblivion, dishing out all colourful decorations possible.
A lot of hard work it was as we ensured there was at least one new set of decorations added every day along with all possible gifts decorated in the most creative manner I could muster. All this in order for a little princess to feel the big day approaching. Of course, the stress was whether it was that exotic Belgian chocolate that I managed to source from the neighborhood supermarket or the imported pancake mix (yes, she is an ardent baker) that Amazon had deigned to deliver, that should be at the pinnacle of gifting during the week to the countdown.
Anyways, between zoom calls with friends from across cities/ countries (hers, not mine) and favourite food as well as unlimited Disney Hotstar.. we seemed to have satisfied the tween around.
Then followed the diamond jubilee of a senior… and a similar treatment was meted out.. of course, with much less stress of meeting expectations that comes with a generation that in many cases didn’t even know the exact date on which they were born. Forget about birthday celebrations -being given a little extra pocket money out to buy their favourite snack was a treat, I am told, much coveted! We exceeded expectations like never before… there was a lot of reason to cheer!
Somewhere between the two extremes outlined above, lies a generation which – and you have heard this before- has listened to their parents and continues the listening spree with their children. Yes, now this is the generation which used to have birthday parties- and mind you I am talking about small town India- where the children from neighbouring houses would visit to play in the garden with you while there would be a cake bought from the only-well-known bakers in town (or shipped by air from another city when Dad’s had their staff spread across the region) along with snacks dished out by a dedicated mother with an all-time-favourite Gold Spot! The party would be over by the time the sun set.. or may be a bit longer before the mosquitoes made an appearance on your heads in big black swarms.
Contrast this with the pressure the parent of a toddler/ apple-of-the-eye lives in today. Starting from determining the venue (needs to be a favourite, but shouldn’t be oft-repeated, and of course should come in the Page 3 of kid’s happening places) to the menu, the MC, the theme.. and the list goes on. I have almost felt having practiced an Indian wedding by the time I am done with the D-day… until of course comes the following year, and the challenges, putting to shame all that corporate world has offered me, come back to haunt me!
Well, in case all of this wasn’t enough- there is the invitee list (yes, no longer just the kids from the neighborhood, some of whom used to non-chalantly stroll in without an invite assuming you just forgot to call them). The list is an excel sheet that ensures the who’s who is all included. And yes, if you don’t already have the list from last year- may the Lord save you from having to recreate it and not just add the newbies from thereafter!
I remember the time my sister had recovered from a major illness just before my birthday and hence we deserved to celebrate! What better than a birthday party. It seems to be the only time I have managed to save photographs from- because neither were there enthusiastic shutterbugs with smart phones around then and nor were there mothers who believed in capturing every muscle movement of the apple-of-their-eyes!
In fact, the only reason anyone remembered birthdays then (I am still referring to the pre-Facebook era) was because you landed in a school full of similar hairstyles, skirt lengths (almost ankle length it seemed), and socks lengths (never mind your varied heights) in the prettiest dress from your closet. Lucky were those who had new ones stitched especially for the day. The distribution of sweets being a coveted activity, exempted from the class with “the best friend” (a.k.a BFF) proudly displayed by your side.
Contrasting that with the time my daughter struggled to choose from among the options that had been created for her wardrobe – so we decided the only way to ensure justice to all of them was by having multiple occasions to adorn them! So here I was shooting myself in my own foot… coz what otherwise was an annual affair, now ended up with several celebrations- the Great Indian Birthday!
Thankfully she has not yet demanded that the pics be posted on all of social media, unsavvy as I am with most of it! But I have definitely ensured that I have made bookings for the salon visit before the series of events, and also upgraded my phone camera to ensure photos are share-worthy… coz it wont be long before the selfie pout with the perfect angle to hold the phone are expectations of a hapless dedicated mother!
Meanwhile, (forgotten) birthday boy sulks in the absence of the missing week-long celebrations.. it is amazing for someone who’s not a believer in the Great Indian Wedding- insistent as he was for a court marriage- why the Birthday bash becomes such a big deal! Maybe its to do with an age, or lets say that which is not just another number!