Tensions run a little high between my husband, Kevin, and me during the planning and setting up stages of the hosting process. My party plans are always highly ambitious, usually calling for complicated gourmet recipes and custom signage and decorations. Kevin becomes a parrot: "K-I-S-S! Keep it simple, Susan." Sometimes, he'll throw in "This is too expensive." His other favorite word in our party planning dialogue: "No."
This is only slightly problematic now. Honestly, I do need some resistance in my life or I really will get carried away. Despite our clashing priorities, I think our parties always turn out great. However, I think this dynamic is setting us up for some trouble once the first birthday party comes along.
My nephew's first birthday was a wonderful little affair. It consisted of immediate family only. A gathering and a cake. Kevin thought this was ideal. That all kids' birthday parties should be that simple and that he'd hope we'd follow suit with our own kids, especially when they're at age too young to remember anything. I think my first reaction was something along the lines of "Do you not know me at all?!!" Of course I'm going to be one of those mothers that comes up with some cutesy, not too mainstream, theme and custom design the invitations myself, and spend hours in the kitchen creating a kid-friendly but elegant menu of hors d'oeuvres. I know, a ton of work! But I never really understood the term "labor of love" until I figured out how much I enjoy cooking. I can't explain the gratification I have in pulling off a successful event, particularly when it involves food that I've created.
Also, birthdays were kind of a big deal in my house growing up. I loved that once a year, the very fact that you were brought into existence was celebrated in whichever way you desired. And my mother always knew how to throw a great party. In fact, I can recall the details of every single one to age five, including all the new birthday outfits that accompanied each fête.
For me, entertaining family and friends, is a mutually beneficial form of affection. I can't say it's a completely unselfish act to cook for others, because I sometimes feel like I'm doing it for myself, given all the joy and pleasure I take from it. But when it comes to children, I can't imagine a more joyful experience than giving them one day a year that reminds them how special they are while creating a lifetime of lasting memories. I can already hear Kevin's rebuttal in my head, "You can do that without spending a fortune!" I know, dear.
In the meantime, I know that when I have kids, I will have to brace for the battle over the birthday parties.