You’re Never Too Old for a Birthday Party

The piñata is strung up. Balloons are inflated, and streamers are everywhere. The hot dogs and hamburgers are ready, toppings spread out in ice to keep cool. A giant orange cooler of Kool-aid is chilling. The cake has been picked up, and candles lay at the ready. The birthday boy got to sleep in and woke up so excited for his party to begin.

The birthday boy happens to be turning 54 this year. And he’s my husband.

When we first got together, my husband casually mentioned that he had never had a birthday party. As someone who comes from a family of Birthday Month celebrators, my brain could not even comprehend that statement. Like, NEVER?? No cake? No embarrassing singing? NOTHING? As a permanent kid at heart, I was aghast.

When we bought our home, we were a standard two-income, no-kids couple. We had no plans to start a family and bought a house with a great backyard that included a pool, specifically so we could have friends over frequently. The Big Boy Birthday was an easy tradition for us to start. 

Our early parties were all-out affairs, and they were epic. The very first one had a western theme. I decorated the entire length of our back fence like an Old West saloon. We had a photo frame made up to take pictures in, cowboy hats for guests to play with, and a Clint Eastwood marathon running on the TV. The margarita machine ran full tilt. In deference to our friends with kids, we advertised the party as “family friendly until dark.” Those first few years were the stuff of legends. There was a lot of alcohol, and I vaguely remember a conversation with my (amazingly awesome) neighbor one year about naked people in our pool at 3:00 A.M. We crawled into bed at dawn, and usually woke to hungover overnight crashers on our couch.

But then we had kids. Hard. Stop. The Big Boy Birthdays went on hiatus. We went to bed at dusk with our little ones, and woke to their cries all night long. It was the opposite of epic. 

Our kids turn six this year. We are finally financially and mentally able to consider the return of Big Boy Birthdays. This year, our theme was Science, as my husband is a constant tinkerer and thinker. His nickname for years was Dr. Science Cat. There were no bacchanalian parties in our backyard, but it was wild and crazy in its own way. The kids definitely outnumbered the adults. The margarita machine ran non-stop with mango slushies. Hot dogs and hamburgers flew off the grill. Cake was enjoyed. The pinata was beaten to the moon and back. Embarrassing singing happened. Everyone went to bed late (if still significantly before dawn).

When my husband told me he had never had a birthday party as a kid, I was sad. I mourned his not getting to experience that one day a year when you are the center of the world and when people you know and love come together to celebrate YOU. His birthday is our chance as a tribe to collaboratively show him how important he is to all of us and how happy we are that he was born. We choose to celebrate that with cheesy trinkets (because, yes, we have goodie bags too), a piñata full of candy, and a brightly colored cake. 

Now that the kids are older, they are joining in the fun. They’ve already started talking about what next year’s theme should be (I’m pushing for Disney, but I may lose out to dinosaurs or a robot redo) and what presents they can make/find for Dad that fit in with the theme of the party.  

I love that what started as an excuse for a bunch of adults to act like kids and let loose has morphed into a way for our kids to celebrate their dad in a way they understand and connect with. I’m looking forward to celebrating his birthdays for years to come, even if we have to move the streamers and balloons to a nursing home, eventually.

Shanti is the product of recovering hippie parents. She’s a lifelong Texan, born in El Paso, with stops in Lubbock and Austin for college, before settling in San Antonio. She met her husband when she was 18. They both married and divorced other people before they realized it was meant to be. She now owns a firm with her partner in crime and together they practice family law in San Antonio and the surrounding area. Her husband works for a multi-national company making sure the cold stuff stays cold at your local HEB. They are raising twin tornadoes affectionately known as the Aliens, along with a rotating menagerie of dogs and cats. In her free time, she is involved in local nonprofits, runs, and serves proudly on the Broad Board.