A Wabi-Sabi Birthday

By Lenore Skenazy

March 5, 2020 4 min read

The online parenting world can be a strange place filled with strange concerns, but surely this is one of the strangest: A mom wrote to a mommy blog that she would like to literally change the date of her son's birthday — or at least lie to him about the date he was born — so they wouldn't have to celebrate on the day after Christmas, which is a holiday in England called Boxing Day.

Yeah. That's her real worry. (And yeah, that's a real holiday. Apparently, it's not the day that all the relatives who have been holding themselves together for the sake of Christmas finally start slugging one another. It has to do with giving the servants a box after Christmas, containing some money and maybe some leftover food. Woo hoo! Old gravy! I'd be ready to box someone, too.)

As for the mom and her inconveniently born kid: The big problem seems to be that this is a bummer of a day. There's no way to have a party — other kids are off with their families — and the boy is basically stuck inside with her and her in-laws (which, if you read between the lines, sounds like it might be a rather large chunk of the issue). So, the boy stays home, cooped up with the extended family. Presumably, he gorged on presents the day before; he has probably eaten some fruitcake (this never bodes well); and along comes the terrible, awful, no-good, very bad birthday.

To which some of us simply don't have eyebrows that can go as high as such a story demands.

The concept of simply "celebrating on a day other than your actual birthday" does not seem to figure in here, even though the boy is all of 4. Surely, he need not be introduced to the Gregorian calendar just yet.

Nor does the mom seem ready to consider the idea that a birthday does not have to be the Oscars after-party for a kid to be content.

She wrote that when she celebrates her other kid's birthday, which does not fall on a weirdly named holiday, they can "celebrate in style with balloons, banners, presents and a trip to the local soft play centre" (an indoor play area).

As if this is the manner in which all birthdays must be celebrated, otherwise they stink.

But in my husband's family, the birthday everyone remembers best is when his sister turned 3. That is the year the video camera was running as the birthday girl removed her shoe and threw it into the cake.

In my own life as a mom, the birthday we remember best is the year we had our son's party at McDonald's and the "playroom" (aka the Chamber of Germs) flooded. To get the kids into its single amusement, the ball pit, we had to wade into the murky water, lifting our kids high above us, and then sort of throw them into the pit.

"Wabi-sabi" is the Japanese concept of the beauty of imperfection. The classic example is the artist who makes a perfect vase, fires it in the kiln and out it comes — with a big crack in the side. Instead of crying (or changing the vase's birthday), the artist fills the crack in with gold, celebrating the beauty of imperfection.

A wabi-sabi Boxing Day birthday sounds like it might be just the trick.

But lying to him about the date works, too.

Lenore Skenazy is president of Let Grow, founder of Free-Range Kids and author of "Has the World Gone Skenazy?" To learn more about Lenore Skenazy ([email protected]) and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: Pexels at Pixabay

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