From a party-planning perspective, the most awkward birthday has got to be August 29th.
My friend is a Christmas baby, but her celebrations always fit right into the festive month of December. Another friend has a daughter whose birthday falls on the last day of school, which seems about the most appropriate day for a big party. By then she really knows the kids in her class, and they are all looking for a reason to celebrate. A birthday any time in late May? Ideal. Have your babies in late May. It’s beautiful.
But a birthday in late August? No one is ready to celebrate. Everyone is a little self-obsessed, self-conscious, nervous. Not looking to party.
Throw into the mix a new school, completely new friends, and turning nine (old enough to realize if we skipped her party), and we all knew this would be a tricky year for celebrating Catie’s birthday.
Catie loves to go for walks with me, so we can have long chats. Especially when we have something to plan, like a party or a trip. So, around July, she started to plan a big sleepover for her birthday.
Because of all the walks, and all the planning, we dreamt up a huge affair. One Direction playing in the background as the guests swam in the pool, decorated their own pizzas, and watched Despicable Me 2.
But Catie was worried: did private school girls like One Direction as much as public school girls? who knew how to swim and who would be freaked out by games like Marco Polo? did everyone like pizza? why wasn’t Despicable Me 2 out on DVD yet? what gifts would these girls bring since they didn’t know her at all? Maybe she should just ask for no gifts (this was my idea since we have yet to write thank you notes for any gifts this summer. I know. My southern manners are appalled too. I’m asking for grace and forgiveness.).
The crux of the party-planning problem was that she was trying to plan a party for guests she had never met. And the girls didn’t know her. Would their moms even let them sleep over with a family they didn’t know? Would they want to?
On the first day of school, we still didn’t have a firm plan.
After the kids all survived their first day, I them they could go anywhere they wanted to celebrate. We could order obnoxiously huge ice cream sundaes, or gourmet cupcakes, or even go to the holy grail of fun, Chuck E. Cheese.
Naturally, they all chose the animal shelter. Because nothing says FUN like staring into the eyes of abandoned pets. So, we headed off to CAP (Citizens for Animal Protection), and the kids immediately grabbed cats and dogs to hug and kiss. Each and every one of them, especially Catie, was in their happy place. Dog fur and cat allergies and melt-your-heart homeless puppies, oh my!
Suddenly it all made sense. CAP hosted birthday parties. If Catie wanted to introduce herself to her new friends, what better way than show them CAP? Plus, Catie dreams of rescuing every animal there, terrified one won’t find a home and will be put to sleep. The guests could bring donations for CAP to help save the animals. Perfect!
The paw-ty was perfect. Despite a few snags (only kids over 6 were allowed, which prevented us from inviting some family friends, and everyone else we invited came, which meant a huge crowd), it was very fun. Catie and her new friends bonded over saving the homeless animals. Everyone brought donations and a whole lot of love for CAP. One party guest even adopted a dog. This was, by far, the hit of the party.
Overall, Catie raised $330.00 for her favorite charity. The shelter volunteers hugged her and thanked her, every party guest found a dog or cat they couldn’t live without, and Catie was totally in her element with all of it.
A win-win birthday celebration for all…even for the most awkward birth date of the year.

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