The parents of a 5 year old boy in Cornwall were served with a ‘ no show invoice ’ for £ 15.95, because their son failed to attend a school mate’s birthday party. The five year old had agreed to attend a schoolmate’s snowboarding themed party, but failed to show. The celebrants mother even threatened legal action if the parents refused to pay.
As the news broke, it re-opened the raging debate on children parties and the pressure it puts on parents.
‘Why do parties have to be so expensive?’
‘Why do people have to go through so much trouble to celebrate birthday parties, EVERY YEAR?
And then, there are those who go through the trouble of throwing big birthday gigs, then hide their true ages. Really!?
I remember this lady I met some time ago. I was taking an evening stroll with my kids that day. It was Autumn and the weather was just right. We were not in a hurry to get home, just kicking dead leaves and talking about everything and nothing.
A car stopped by me. A woman I identified as a parent from my kids’ school stepped out in her glorious blond dyed hair, [which I loved by the way], and ribbed tights. She was holding a large Sainsbury’s bag, and smiling. I looked behind me, trying to make certain she was smiling at me, because we were not friends, hardly even acquaintances.
She was one of those parents you see often during school runs but never speak to, and then when you see them outside of school, you realise just how familiar they have become. So you try to be polite. You nod, and they nod, and if you are in close proximity to each other, you make an obvious statement like
‘It’s cold today, isn’t it?’
‘The sun is out today, thank God’
‘It’s quite windy today’. They agree with you. And when you are done bashing the London weather, and if you have time, you move on to the weather in Aberdeen.
Usually the familiarity ends there, because when you see each other again during school runs, there will be no need to be familiar. The environment is familiar enough. She was that kind of acquaintance.
So, I realized this frantic wave was for me and so I waved back. She commented on my weight loss, I smiled and acted surprised. She asked me what diet I was on. I told her I run, 30 minutes every morning, up and down the hill. We laughed about something mundane, something I can’t remember. She whipped out a gold envelop from her bag
‘I am inviting you for my birthday party. You can bring your husband’ she said
‘Okaaaay’ I began, dragging the ok, to allow me time to think. Why was she inviting me? We were not friends, we hardly even talked.
She said all her friends were wearing white. I wondered what was so special about a white top and glad I was not her friend, so I needed not bother.
‘What age are you celebrating?’
‘Don’t worry about the age, just come and enjoy yourself…, here, this is the scarf’ She pulled out a gold gele from the bag she was carrying.
‘So this will go with the white lace, its £15.0 for the gele’ She said, thrusting it into my hands
‘Lace? I thought you meant a white top’.
She looked at me like I was an alien. Uncertainty flitted through her face, as I imagined her thinking that I wasn’t a good invite after all.
When I mentioned it to a friend, she laughed until she cried. And then asked me what planet I lived in. She said people spend way more than that as guests.
To some people, I might sound incredibly naive, but, why is it okay to go through so much hassle just to attend a birthday party. Sewing an outfit in London costs about £70 to £100.0, maybe more + gele, £15.0 + lace, maybe another £100.0, definitely more = £200.0 (approximately).
Why do parties have to be loud and expensive and impersonal?
Why can’t we just huddle around a table and pop a bottle of red wine (or whichever you prefer) and blow the candles off a sponge cake, and make a silly wish, and sing happy birthday?
Whatever happened to an evening out to a restaurant you can afford. Or a meal at home surrounded by people you actually know and love?
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