Return gifts and Pizza corner parties

Yesterday, N and I attended a Birthday party. Uninvited 🙂

A friend and her daughter were going, and we had nothing to do really what with Appa also being away on a recruitment trip, so I thought why not? The friend had already wrangled some sort of an invitation for us, or so she told me. I’d never spoken to the Mom or the kid whose Bday party it was.

Anyway, it was a nice party and N had fun and we got to know both the Mom and the kid, so that was good. What struck me though after the party was how different it was from the Bday parties we used to have.

For starters, we didn’t know if our parents would have a party for us at all or not. If the kids of today are told months in advance about the kind of cake they will have for their Bday, I could not be sure I would even have one. We were not deprived, but somehow a Bday party with a large cake was not part of the must-haves.

What we did have was a Puja on our Bdays. Nobody asked us kids if we wanted that. But anyway, I guess it pleased the parents, and the Gods.

And sometimes, we did have our uncles and aunts and neighbours coming over in the evening. Ma would make Luchi/ ghugni, and there would be a rosogola, that was it. We would get crayons and sketchpens as gifts ( when did Barbies appear on the scene?) And oh, we’d take a bagful of Eclairs to school, and hand it out to the kids in class, and the teachers. And we could wear a Bday dress instead of our usual grey and white uniform.

The Bday that I went to was as much a contrast to this as there ever could be. First of all, it was at Pizza corner, not at home. The menu ? Potato wedges, cold drinks, cake ( a LARGE white one with Disney stuff on it), pizza, garlic bread . And icecream. And everything was being served by the Pizza corner staff.

Somehow, the Mom should have looked less hassled, what with things being taken care of. But she was looking really troubled, a very uneasy master of ceremonies.

Then there was the tattoo man, who was busy painting butterflies,  mermaids and spiderman on little boys and girls. But he would paint only one, because that was what was told him.

The little girl whose Bday it was looked a little overcome by the event when the time came for the cake to be cut. The Mom and Dad, both unused to being in the limelight, were hesitant to stand out and hold her hand for the cake-cutting. In fact, the poor little girl was unable, for a while, to see her own cake with the throng of kids around her.

The other strange phenomenon was the absence of the Dads. It was as though the invitation ( which I of course did not see or hear), had a Mom and child only written on it or something. I found it a little bizarre that the Dads were kind of barred from the celebrations – the only guys there being the Bday girl’s Dad and Granddad.I was told by my friend that its quite common, and in fact, people do have Bday parties where they say Mom and kid. I don’t know whether it is to imply that the Mom is also invited alongwith the kid, or that the Dad is NOT invited.

Then finally there is the matter of the return gift. I come, I eat, I get tattooed, I dance – and I am happy at the end of it to be there. Why, then, do I need to get a return gift also? There is something about this return gift business that really irks me. Call me anti-social or whatever, but I just don’t get it.

Things have changed drastically, all in one generation. We’ve got more money than our parents, and we have less people around us to lavish it on. So we lavish it all on our kids. Our kids, those lucky ones, have nice elaborate parties, and good for them too! I hope they all love it, and make it worth their parents while.

And I hope they don’t do what the parents often fall prey to – her Bday cake was bigger than mine.

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4 thoughts on “Return gifts and Pizza corner parties

  1. aarthi November 11, 2009 / 8:36 pm

    uninvited! aah the luxuries of being in India 🙂

    Seriously these parties seem to imbibe a consumerist attitude in the kids, too bad.

    But well if they have to give return gifts why dont they give it to everyone! couples with no kids are just on the losing end 😦

    • kopili November 13, 2009 / 2:36 pm

      Yes, and its kind of sad. Right now, thankfully my daughter does not know her barbie from her dora, so i can get her any doll and she’s content. Its not going to last long though, I’m sure.

  2. Ajay Reddy November 13, 2009 / 7:48 am

    I remember distributing choclates on birthday. Going overboard on a birthday in those days (as one kid in my class used to do) was bringing choclates and cake for everybody and then gifting a pencil, eraser and sharpener too :). At least in my case, it was celebrating in school and getting teachers and friends to wish you, nowadays it is also a social/networking event. See where liberalization has taken us, sigh :).

    • kopili November 13, 2009 / 2:39 pm

      Hey, thats so like our school. all the “rich” kids used to hand out extra stuff like pencil boxes and all. It was quite a status symbol. And its funny how kids become status conscious quite early.

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