I know I should feel embarrassed by the excess.
More than two dozen people invited to a two-hour birthday party.
At Christmas time, no less.
But I don't feel embarrassed.
The much reviled gift bag is in full production mode at our house.
I understand the hatred for such things. Before I was a child, I've come to understand, the party WAS the present.
When I was growing up a few kids would go home with prizes, which was probably how all this excess was born. Everyone, as they start having children of their own, remembers feeling like a loser as they left party after party empty handed.
And here we are - adults, a whole lifetime later - trying to compensate for all the mild disappointments with small bag of trinkets to be handed out to the children we sugared up and are sending home with their parents.
We rent places and spaces, trying to create memories that will last until next year when we'll try to top ourselves.
It sounds so much more of an indictment of modern life that it seems. "It's only money" is the polar opposite of "it's such a waste." Schools of thought that can't meet in the middle and play nice.
It's social/economic position vs. social/economic position: The haves vs. the have nots.
Either way, all that angst and anticipation gets channeled into a plastic and paper assembly line. And things that don't really matter at all -- things that will undoubtedly wind up at the bottom of a drawer -- end up meaning more than they should.
... Except that they do, somehow, matter in the moment we do them. In the minutes we spend planning, shopping and producing we are working together. We are sharing a moment.
I had begun to think it didn't matter that it doesn't matter.
But I know it does matter.
The thing we lose by being so caught up in the details is the big picture; this celebration birth and belonging and life gets lost in the minutia of the minute.
More than seven years ago, when I sat on an examining table in a paper robe listening to the doctor telling me I would have a Christmas baby ... I felt sorry for her.
I thought she would forgotten in the hoopla that is the holidays.
I had no way of understanding what a gift I would get that Christmas when I met her. I didn't have the forethought, and still don't, to see how Christmas would be forever changed by you.
Each year brings a new revelation.
So as we ready for the day you will turn seven, I want to tell you to just enjoy this moment for all that it is and all it could be.
And I'll try to do the same.
Love and just-about-birthday kisses,