We celebrated my husband’s birthday this week, albeit a little differently than we have in the past. It became an accidental tradition 14 years ago when, for a birthday surprise, I called around to every restaurant within a two hour’s radius and found a place that trucked in fresh crawfish every day. We barely stayed within that boundary, but Ryan had three pounds of low country boil that night and that two-hour drive became his annual birthday celebration.
The year prior to that I’d thrown him a surprise “Dukes of Hazzard” party, one of his childhood favorites. Several years later I hosted a big 29th celebration for him. Ryan isn’t someone who loves to be the center of attention — he’s exactly opposite, in fact — so these parties only included close friends and family. And he enjoyed them.
Birthdays are important. I understand some people don’t like the attention or for others to make a big fuss … but it’s my belief that a person’s birthday is the day for everyone else to celebrate their existence. My husband’s birthday is a day for us to celebrate the day of his birth — the fact that we have this amazing man in our lives as a husband, as a father, a son, brother, and friend.
Of course I make a big deal for our daughters, as well. When I became a mom, birthdays became even more significant — I was there at the exact moments my two beautiful babes were born. For their summertime birthdays, they wake up each year to streamers on their doors, balloons, presents, and cake for breakfast. Each year’s activities differ — we usually gift experiences, so a trip to the aquarium or an overnight stay in Chattanooga — but it always starts with that morning celebration. There’s usually crowns and poppers & confetti thrown in there for good measure, along with pancakes.
As I said, though, Ryan’s celebration this week was different. The small, seafood restaurant that’s two hours away from our home in Alabama is now a five-hour trip, which just wasn’t possible. New state, new home, new traditions … so the girls and I picked out not one but two birthday cakes — that’s right, one traditional cake and one fancy cake. We cooked one of Ryan’s favorite dinners, and then decorated the kitchen and dining room with banners and streamers. It was low-key, but he still felt loved. And that’s what’s most important, right?
I’m not saying everyone needs a fancy party — especially if they don’t love that sort of thing — but everyone deserves to be celebrated. My husband deserved to be celebrated this week. He is a sweet, loving, funny husband and a kind, nurturing, ‘dad-joke’ kind of dad. His three girls are lucky to have him, and we are always grateful for the chance to celebrate the fact we have such an amazing man in our lives.
* This column first appeared in The Walton Tribune on February 27, 2021 *