Family, Inc.

My birthday is at the very end of June which means that as a kid my birthday always fell just after the last day of school.  I didn’t get to celebrate with my friends in homeroom.  I was always bummed when I saw my friends’ moms bringing cupcakes to school for their birthdays.
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When I was older, I was jealous of car windows with soapy messages parked in the high school parking lot.  Do you know how hard it is to plan a birthday party around your friends’ summer vacations?  Or worse, to have a birthday party that only a few people can come to because everyone else is out of town?
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But don’t get your violin out just yet.
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No, don’t feel too bad for me, friends.  I had a summer birthday, a pool in my backyard, and a dad who loved to grill.  What does that spell?  Pool parties.  EPIC pool parties.
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I say all this to bring up a concept that didn’t exist when I was a kid; a concept that could have saved me that bereft walk down the high school hallway past the birthday-bedazzled lockers.
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I’m talking about half birthdays.
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Today, kids who have summer birthdays celebrate their half birthdays during the school year.  Born in July?  No worries, your mom or dad can bring in cupcakes in January!
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There are websites devoted to this phenomenon.  And associated party supplies.  Some sites even describe how to calculate your half birthday.  You know in case you don’t know the months of the year or have a hard time counting to 6:
“Simply take the month and day you were born, say November 5th, and tack on six months. Your half birthday is May 5th. (If it falls on a day that doesn’t exist, like Sept. 31st, use the next day, Oct. 1st.) Purists will argue that your half birthday is exactly 182.5 days after your regular birthday (or 183 days in leap years.) But that means difficult computations and tough dates to remember. Who needs that? Go with the less accurate fun way!” (Source)
When Peanut was born at the end of July, I resolved to celebrate her half birthdays. I decided to make it a family tradition instead of a school one.  This year, for Peanut’s 4 ½ birthday, I surprised her with a blueberry and strawberry shortcake for breakfast.
Yes, I totally sang the “Happy Half Birthday”song.



Peanut only has eyes for whipped cream.



Pumpkin’s birthday will fall within the school year but I couldn’t rob her of our new family tradition.  So this past weekend when we marked her 1 ½ birthday at my parents’ house, Pumpkin got her due:



No, she didn’t just eat a smurf.



I introduced you to Marigold, our goat dog, in a previous post.  Check out how she is eyeing that cupcake.



Blue doggy lips and hysterical toddler
tears in 3….2….1….



I mentioned a while back that I like to have reasons for things; I don’t like to do stuff just because everyone else is doing it. One of the reasons I wanted to start a family was because I had love to give.  But there’s another major reason I wanted a family that until recently I couldn’t have articulated.
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It was in a recent chat with my cousin, actually, that this reason came to light.  He mentioned that his motivation to start a family is to have fun doing all the little things that create a family’s unique identity, its culture.
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It got me thinking…businesses have ‘brands.’  Do families?  We may not have a logo but we all have our own ways of doing things, our own ways of living our weird little lives.  Does the way we celebrate our birthdays, the way we have dance parties in the kitchen, the way we fight add up to the equivalent of a family trademark?
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I just love the idea that B and I get to create a brand for my children’s childhood.  We get to define what makes us US.  I’m not so concerned that it be unique, just that it be organic to who we really are.
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The thing about identity (mine, yours, a family’s) is that even if you’re not actively defining it, your lack of action itself becomes part of the identity.  So I choose to actively define my family’s brand.
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And today, that brand includes half birthday cupcakes for breakfast.
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Now if only we had a family logo…..
 

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