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A Home-Centered Birthday: A Fourth Trip Around the Sun


A year ago, I was writing about our play date style birthday party for our younger daughter. This year, she turned four without a party, but as a family of four, we did celebrate her with everything we could muster.

We are not alone celebrating a birthday during this time of physical distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Amy wrote about how their family celebrated 12-year-old Kylee’s birthday. I’m hoping my four-year-old’s concept of time is pliable enough that this delay in a “real” celebration for her birthday won’t cause lasting memories or at least no trauma.

Originally, we had scheduled a bounce house backyard birthday party, and our invitation was so adorable. Look at that cute wavy-by-braids hair! The weather would have been perfect for the day we chose too, which is kind of an insult to injury. Or maybe I’m just overly sensitive these days! 

Once schools were closed, we knew it was socially irresponsible to have any sort of gathering, so we “postponed” the party. We have six months to reschedule the bounce house, so we’ll see how that goes. An un-birthday party to celebrate a return to any normalcy would be as good a reason as any to have a bounce house I think.

The day before Miss Four’s actual birthday on the last day of March, my girls and I baked funfetti cupcakes, frosted, and sprinkled them generously. After their bedtime, my husband and I blew up all the balloons I could find in the house (I have since found some more!), and I wrapped her presents in a variety of used gift bags (that part is no different than I’d normally do though!). Luckily, I’d already been shopping for her birthday using clearance sales and my general gift stash. Her grandparents shipped some items off her Amazon wish list, and after careful cleaning and quarantining the packages, I wrapped those up too. We ate cupcakes and ice cream at lunch and dinner, and we got her favorite takeout supper (Red Robin, yummm). 

I had thought about having balloons fall when she opened her bedroom door in the morning, but I just didn’t have the mental bandwidth to actually figure out how it would work. The balloons themselves are fun for batting around as a time killer. They also add a festive atmosphere in general.

My girl shares her birthday with a church friend who turned 10 this year, and her family hosted a drive-by birthday parade to mark the decade of life. The at-a-distance party idea was again more than I could manage myself, and I’m doing my best to stick to the spirit of the stay-at-home order and encourage the same in others. But their family lives close enough that a few church friends extended the parade to include a drive by our house. We got to see them from a safe distance and hear how much they love and celebrate our girl.

We did have several video chats with friends and family throughout her birthday. We don’t have family living nearby, so video calling for celebrations isn’t different for us. In fact, we are in closer contact with our out-of-town family while we’re in isolation. Physical distancing from our local lives has opened up time and new ways to remain socially close to people who matter a great deal to our family but don’t live near enough to see regularly. Always a silver lining I guess. With so many new toys to play with, time flew for us on her birthday. Wish I could say the same for all these other running-together-days...

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16 Apr 2020


By Mari Walker

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