Birthday ‘parties’ used to consist of immediate family around a table, a home cooked meal, and a made from scratch cake while the off-key choir sang to you. My favorite ‘party’ was the year I turned 8 because I not only got my ears pierced, but the family party highlight was when my cousins and I ran around the backyard of the Malvern Inn pouring salt on slugs and watching them dissolve. Good times!
Today’s parties have been elevated to an art involving expensive venues, invitations to the entire western seacoast, specialty cakes costing hundreds of dollars, and the penultimate ‘goody bag’ which rival those given to Oscar nominees. Thankfully, dollar stores are in abundance for those less fortunate and unable to afford a party for three-year-olds at the Four Seasons.
This weekend marked the twelfth birthday of my daughter. Seeing that my art medium is clearly dollar store and harkens back to traditional days, she invited twelve friends to have a cooking party in our home. Armed with decorations and food items from the dollar store, I watched as twelve gleeful girls gaggled their way through scotch tape and decorations and then to different cooking stations. From nachos to Chicken Alfredo, penne pasta to parfaits, peppered between truth or dare and charades, I was in ‘retro’ heaven at the thought that this was, in fact, a callback to the simpler birthday parties of yore.
Suddenly, there was posing, there were devices, there was Instagram. As I was cleaning up dishes and trash, I saw girls holding iPhones, iPads, iPods tweeting, texting, and app-ily putting their own modern mark on an old-fashioned party.
They handed me the devices: “Take our picture, now us, apply this app to make us blue, old, wrinkly, silly” and I obliged. With each gift my daughter opened, you could hear the little clicks of the phone cameras then karaoke ensued with music blasting from ten different devices at varying volumes. Profile pics were updated and a ‘build your own birthday cake app’ was played by one and all.
At one point, I looked around the room, these twelve twirling, whirling girls with gadgets in their hands and, in my best teacher voice I yelled, “Put the devices down!” A dozen pair of eyes fell upon me as if I just cast off my invisibility cloak!
I smiled. I even chuckled. I told them, “Look at each other. Talk to each other. For the remainder of the party, just be with each other.”
“Oh, okay.” And they proceeded to laugh, make confetti and throw it around, talk about school, life, and the universe. Clearly, they were BFFs who were LOL-ing, and as they parted ways, they promised to TTYL.
Evidently, it was a successful modern day birthday party, sprinkled with some time honored fun. <3!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on modern day technology? Advantages? Concerns?