Having (Birthday) Cake and Eating It Too

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My wife was recently treated to lunch by her parents, “for her birthday.” Their intention was to go to Steak ‘n Shake, a mid-level greasy spoon chain. But, she persuaded them to upgrade to something called the Frosty Frog.

This was a change for her. Her birthday follows closely to Christmas, and it’s not uncommon for her parents to be remember this, in the form of a present, a week or two later. Sadly, she was informed that she’s reached the age that she no longer will get birthday presents. It’s a good thing I did my part on time.photo

For (unspecified) decades, she really enjoyed receiving presents, or, in more recent years, the gift cards that let her go out and buy some piece of clothing on a whim. So, the responsibility for my wife’s birthday now falls squarely to me. And our kids.

I, on the other hand, haven’t gotten birthday presents from my parents in many years. At least hers were upfront about it. Mine never fessed up when I was getting cut off. After being in the habit so many years of opening my birthday card with eager anticipation of catching a couple twenties or a check, it another took 4-5 years of “just the card” before I was able to lower my expectations. I’m over that now. Really.

Accordingly, as there is nothing in it for us, it’s now time to reassess this whole Birthday gifting thing. In the spirit of “What’s in it for me?”, why are we giving presents to our kids for their birthdays? What did they do to deserve them? Kids didn’t earn their way into this earth. They had nothing to do with the origination. They’re a hindrance rather than a help in the birthing process. They eat away at your paycheck and occasionally beat you in pool. But for years ahead, they get freebies? How’s that fair?

It’s backward. The kids should thank both their parents on their birthday as a sign of appreciation. There should be cake, and birthday cards, and, yes, presents! But, for their parents! This would be a very appropriate time of appreciation for parents who invested their time, energy, and considerable expenses into raising the little souls into productive and well mannered members of society.

It’s not like we’d be getting “double” for Mother’s and Father’s Day. Moms would get a little more (cake, for one), but they deserve more in context of the Big Day. And Dads would finally get something. I mean, if we as a country were serious about Father’s Day, wouldn’t it be scheduled at a point other than the summer? What kid thinks of anything but themselves during the summer?

So, kids. Give your parents cake on your birthdays. We’ll eat it, too.

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