We celebrated Honeybee’s 13th birthday on Sunday with the best birthday celebration she has ever had. Yesterday’s post, Sabotaging Holidays and Other Fun, is the perfect prelude to my thoughts on why it went so well. I had my ideas, but even better, I interviewed Honeybee this morning and this is what we concluded.
1. She knew exactly what her birthday gift was, and even picked it out herself. When our daughters turn 13, Russ takes them out to lunch and then shopping for a birthstone ring. She had been looking forward to this since Ladybug got her ring last year, and two weeks ago they found a ring she loved which we put away until her birthday.
Honeybee told me that she always worries about being disappointed with her gifts and this year she didn’t worry about it at all. She also knew she was getting only one gift from us which eliminated any unknowns.
2. This was her fifth birthday since joining our family so she knew exactly what to expect. We had her birthday dinner, followed by gifts, followed by cake. We sang the same two songs we sing for every birthday and took the traditional cake pictures.
3. She planned the menu: Thai Chicken, Asian Noodle Salad, broccoli, Kettle Chips, and soda.
4. She set the table and made a centerpiece with some ceramic birds and special candles. She used a special tablecloth and pretty glasses and even determined where our guests would sit.
5. She made her own cake. Somewhere along the way Honeybee discovered that she likes Angel Food cake and that it can be made easily with a mix. It has become her new specialty and she is pleased that she can accomplish it herself. I led her astray and told her she could bake it in a bundt pan, which caused a huge mess as it spilled over in the oven. Later I read the directions on the box that expressly say not to use a bundt pan because it will overflow – good to know.
6. She knew who was coming to celebrate with us – her friend, Eleanor, her grandparents, and Mimi and Andrew.
As we talked this morning Honeybee told me that she hates surprises; they make her feel all angry and bad inside. This was her favorite birthday because she got to pick out her present, which she loves, and she had nothing to worry about. It’s taken us a little while to figure this out, but I think we did it just right this time.
To sum it up – a happy birthday for Honeybee requires predictable traditions, no big surprises, confidence that she will love her gifts, planning the menu and participating in the cooking, and the ability to manage (and enjoy) the small things, such as setting the table in a way that brings her happiness.
I expect she’ll be picking out her Christmas gifts this year, and that is just fine with me.
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