Going Retro

Ben’s 9th birthday was yesterday. Big day; last of the single digits. And, as has become common around here, the birthday celebration morphs into an extended multi-day celebration. I only remember ever having one birthday party. One birthday, one cake, one party. Similar to “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism.” But different.

Now we have at least two parties: the Friends Party and the Family Party. The birthday becomes the birthweekend. I’m not really complaining because I love birthdays. At no other time do we celebrate a person simply for being that person. A birthday celebration doesn’t mark someone’s accomplishments or achievements. It’s all about commemorating a person for simply existing in this world as a child of God. And that’s something worth eating cake for.

Ben’s “friends” party was perfect – the weather was beautiful and the whole thing took place outside. This year, as we’ve done the last few years, Bryna and I have gone “retro” with our birthday party planning. Ben had seven friends over and we just let them play, run around, and enjoy one another. Birthdays for boys are not complicated – you don’t need a fancy rock climbing wall or laser tag or some other fill-in-the-blank-this-is-costing-me-$800 theme.

They played about an hour of wiffle ball (I was the designated pitcher), had cake, and then had a squirt gun fight. Two parents later called to say their kids told them it was the best party they’d ever been to. I think it stood out because children get so little unstructured time these days to simply be with one another. Parties are over-scheduled and kids have arranged “play dates.” Sometimes all they want to do is run amok and get sweaty. It’s not rocket science. Unless it rains.


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