There are a lot of things I cannot wait to get back to after all this is said and done. But I realize that even partially opening up the state still means that there will be a lot of new normals for many events which kind of makes me worry about what the future holds. However, there is one thing that we have adapted in the last six weeks that I would love to stick around well after all this is over: Birthday parades.
I have already had four experiences with birthday parades — two from the sidewalk waving on, and two in the actual parade driving by. (We are a family of spring birthdays. From April 11 to June 15, we have eight birthdays in our family!) Honestly, I have thoroughly enjoyed both sides of the adventure.
The first one, we loaded in the truck and drove by a dear neighborhood friend’s house blasting “Happy Birthday” on our big speaker. The second one was my birthday and seeing all my family drive up to celebrate me honestly made my day. We then returned the favor to my sister, and it was such a great reason to get all done up and out of the house (you know, actually have somewhere to go). But my favorite by far, was the birthday parade last weekend for Miss Maylie.
By that time, Maylie had caught on to the idea that birthday parades are now a thing; she knew it was coming — there was no surprising her. But that didn’t make it any less special. When the first car turned the corner and started blaring its horn, my sweet 7-year-old was literally jumping up and down, overcome with excitement that so many people came to wish her a Happy Birthday.
As different people drove by, some she didn’t expect at all, a smile never left her face. Practically giggling with joy, she waved and could barely contain her little self. For a mom, there is seriously no better feeling than watching your baby get filled with delight. It was a magical experience, and she has not stopped talking about it since.
But, that may not even be my favorite part about her birthday parade. Do you know what I had to do to prepare for this parade? Uh, pretty much nothing. Ha! I sent an online invitation (no one wants to touch the mail these days anyway, right?) and everyone showed up, lined up and drove through.
There was no venue that I needed to rent out for an arm and a leg, I didn’t need to clean my entire house or even my toilets — no one was coming in! I even had dishes in my sink!
The set up was literally putting a few chairs out front, hanging a handmade poster board that simply read, “Happy 7th Birthday, Maylie,” and attaching a unicorn balloon to the mailbox. I didn’t have to purchase tablecloths, plastic silverware, overpriced unicorn plates or even decorations.
There was no reason to go out and buy a bunch of food and cook it up or spend way too much on pizza (which I always over order and we have leftovers for days). No one was coming over to eat and hang out.
Presents were optional but definitely not a must! Some people brought one and some didn’t. But it didn’t matter to her. Seriously, she was way more excited about the parade part and seeing people make noise for her than the presents. Don’t get me wrong, she is 7 and thoroughly enjoyed opening her gifts that she did get, but they were not the highlight of her day.
Heck, I didn’t even have to order a cake to feed all our guests! At Maylie’s request, GG whipped up her famous strawberry topping cake as well as a batch of brownies and if people did want to stop for a second and socially distance to eat a yummy treat, they could.
And then, as quickly as they came, everyone left. Let me tell you about the clean-up. There. Was. None. Seriously, no confetti to find laying around for days, no half-full cups of wasted fruit punch and no breaking down of tables. We literally folded our chairs back up and put them back in the garage. That was that.
Maylie’s birthday this year was different — not normal. It was subtle and impactful, one I am sure Maylie will never forget. And I don’t know what the future holds, what our new normal will look like. But, I do know that, as a busy mom who wants to make her child’s birthday special, I am on board with keeping birthday parades around long after all of this ends.
By Sarah Shrader
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.