The changing face of family birthdays
Is it just me, or does it get harder to buy for loved ones as we get older? In the first few years of dating my girlfriend-who-became-my-wife, it seemed so straightforward.
A DVD, CD, some chocolates, maybe flowers – that was virtually the running, slightly uninspiring, annual list for a somewhat cash-strapped twenty-something.
She would buy me similar in return, maybe not the flowers, before we ended the birthday with a nice meal out or a trip to the cinema. Occasionally, we really went crazy and did both.
Things have changed. For one, our watching and listening habits have radically altered. I can count on one hand the number of CDs I buy in a year with Spotify now firmly a part of my computer, my iPhone and therefore my car.
The same goes for DVDs. We have a fair few on a shelf – but most are historic and many rarely get watched. Instead, we are more likely to slump down in an evening and flick through Sky to see what movies we missed in the cinema.
The other thing that has changed is our family make-up. Of course, children change everything which means our birthdays are more likely to end with a quick catch-up on the TV and falling asleep on the sofa than finding babysitters and enjoying a rare date night.
The other stumbling block when it comes to buying birthday presents for Mrs G is the fact that our shopping habits usually see us turn to the children’s aisle.
At the start of the year, and to celebrate 10 years since we walked inside the former Benson Blakes for our first date, I arranged for us to spend the day together shopping. But what did we do? Focus on the wants and needs of our sons, culminating in spending much more on them than us.
I bring this to your attention as we are currently two-thirds of the way through the week of birthdays.
Three celebrations in five days for a family-of-four. Throw in a couple of siblings and two grandparents’ birthdays in February and it is a rather busy time.
A frantic week of wrapping and blowing out candles will end with a typically crazy Sunday. Football with my oldest boy, a quick dash home to watch Ipswich in the East Anglian derby before organised chaos ensues in our local community centre for the youngest boy’s birthday.
It is little wonder that I have had time to think about presents when sometimes it is a struggle to draw breath.
But would I change anything, even when I am dashing around the shops of Bury looking for last minute inspiration?
Not one bit.
Now pass me the balloons.