HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Sarah Henderson’s blog Feminist in Spite of Them. It was originally published on her blog on March 30, 2014.
I want to share a very simple little story about something that was a precious moment for me.
When I was a child, we didn’t really have birthday parties, although my mother did make an effort most years to cook a favourite meal for the birthday child. When I was really young, we did have a party or two with a few friends invited and a special meal, but eventually as we became more isolated by the homeschooling, there weren’t really friends to invite, and there was no money for extras like birthday meals when my father was just not working. So in my last few years before I left home, all our birthdays were barely noticed, much less celebrated, except by my mom quietly making a preferred meal from pre-set options and often no cake, or a very plain one with no icing. Birthdays could be a cause for concern for us, since we also were fair game to be confronted about whether we had matured into more godly children in the past year or not, and there was no safe way to answer that question. We were also sometimes taunted by the chance of a birthday party or a coveted gift if we behaved well enough. This was never really a possibility, and we would always lose that privilege no matter how good we were, since the money literally did not exist for it.
I became a little resentful about birthdays and birthday parties as I became an adult, because not only were birthdays not special, they represented a loss. I had been to a few normal birthday parties as a child and just couldn’t be happy for those kids when I would never get that myself. Seeing someone have a nice birthday party became a difficult thing for me. I explained this my non-fundamentalist husband, who along with millions of North American children, apparently had birthday parties. He was a little surprised by this, and decided to do something about it.
My husband threw me a kid’s party for my 24th birthday, because I never got one. He invited friends over, and ordered a very pink cake that said happy birthday on it. He stuck a ton of candles in it and lit them all. He set up our kitchen and living room with pink and white streamers all over, and blew up balloons and hung them from ribbons all over the downstairs area of our house. He made some kind of supper, I can’t even remember what it was, the party was so exciting. And the best part of my party was the cupcake piñata. It was huge, at least two feet in diameter. It had a colourful “wrapper” base, and “icing” on top covered in sprinkles. He filled it with candy rockets and jolly ranchers and suckers and Hershey’s chocolates and little plastic dinosaurs. We hung it in the doorway between the dining room and the living room and he videotaped us hitting it until it cracked open, and then we had little goodie bags and gathered up all the loot.
I didn’t really eat a lot of the smashed piñata candy, but being given that experience at 24 years old was such a healing day for me. I still don’t like it that I missed that part of childhood, but I am not hurt by that any more because the thing that I had lost was given to me. He gave me a piñata for my birthday last year too, I am coming up on my 26th birthday this year.
Who knows, maybe I will get another one.
HE WAS CHANNELING PINKIE PIE!
Your husband sounds like a very sweet guy, Sarah 🙂 … coming from another fundie kid who didn’t have birthday parties. I’m so glad he created this experience for you!
You have the best husband! Congratulations on your good taste in choosing him 🙂
For me, one of the best experiences in ‘catching up’ was when I worked in a girls’ boarding school while I was at university. It was incredible to see first hand how ordinary teenage girls lived – what they wore, what music they listened to, even what bathroom products and makeup they had. I was astonished to see that they had BOYFRIENDS at 14 and 15 and watched the most unsuitable of movies.
Of course, it was all fine for them, it just seemed outrageous to my innocent eyes.
Awwww. I had a few birthday parties when I was very small, but once my mom got really [crazy/psycho/more fundie] after my dad died, I didn’t have one again for many years. A bf’s mom threw me an 18th birthday party at which I was on the verge of a panic attack the entire time. Haven’t had another party since, and other peoples’ birthday parties are so hard, too!
So glad that you had a healing experience with your first birthday party. 🙂
I wasn’t homeschooled but I never had parties either. It just wasn’t in the budget. Same for my husband. We have thrown each other small parties though and that was fun.
We were allowed “parties” but looking back on it, every birthday was utterly miserable. My mom would make a cake & invite her parents over. When cake time came, they’d light the candles, do the usual happy birthday song, everyone would get a slice…and I’d be sent to my room to eat it alone. While everyone else ate together. And then they started playing card games for the rest of the of the night, sometimes till 1-2 AM. So birthdays were spent in my room, listening in on my family having a great time and I wasn’t invited.