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No Gifts Birthday Parties

Next month, my baby’s turning two.  I can hardly believe it.  Yesterday, he was waking up every two hours for more milk and another round of lullabies; now, he’s singing the lullabies himself, belting out the Cliff Notes version of You Are My Sunshine – Sunshine, sunshine, happy, dear, love you, sunshine away.

For Jonas’ second birthday, we’ve asked our small group of guests not to bring presents, just as we did with Axel’s birthday at the same age.  We’re not against presents; we’ll be giving them to Jonas, as well all of the members of his extended family.  It’s just that, at this age, before the boys really understand birthday presents, we’re trying to keep the focus on the celebration, not the stuff.

That, and our home is already being overtaken by trucks, trains, and all those tiny plastic things that preschoolers attract like Velcro – the same black hole that sucks up half of their socks spits out bouncy balls, green Army men, and pocket-sized race cars.  Later, probably around age 4, when the boys start going to more birthday parties and picking out gifts to give their friends, we’ll get rid of this no-presents request.   But we’ll always keep the parties a bit low key, more along the lines of backyard barbecues than sweet 16 bashes with limos, ice sculptures, and performing peacocks.

This year, Jonas’ party is going to be a pancake brunch, since he can’t get enough banana pancakes, with some of his beloved trains thrown in for good measure.  It’s possible that he likes trash trucks even more than trains, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to put garbage trucks on his cupcakes.

Because Jonas adores books, from reading Good Dog Carl to his own DogDog (hoping, I think, that DogDog will bust him out of his crib for an afternoon of mischief just like in the book) to tearing off all of the offending flaps in our lift-the-flap books, we’ve asked that people who want to bring something buy a new book to pass along to kids who don’t have many books at home.  We’ll also take the boys to the book store to pick out a few new books for other kids themselves, and let them help deliver the package.  It’s another small step in our efforts to cultivate a spirit of generosity and philanthropy in our boys – something that’s especially important to me as someone who works in the nonprofit sector and, everyday, sees the impact that such generosity can have, and the opportunity we each have to make a difference in our communities.

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