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Our son just turned three years old. Time flies!
I still remember the first night we brought him back from the hospital.
It was 1 AM, and he was wide awake looking around the room, probably wondering where he was.
Our son celebrated his first and second birthdays in China with my in-laws.
I think they bought him a birthday cake for his first birthday.
I’m not sure what they did for the second.
But we were just happy to see him back in the US.
Related: Why We Sent Our Son To China
Family tradition (or the lack thereof)
Birthday celebrations aren’t really big in our family.
Mr. FAF and I grew up poor and rarely had the chance to celebrate the day we were born.
I think I had maybe three birthday parties before the age of 18.
The first one I can remember was when I turned 6.
That’s because I still have the photos from the party.
I wore a yellow dress and was surrounded by some other kids in the neighborhood at our house.
I had a small birthday cake, fruit, and candy. I got a lot of presents too, most of which were notebooks. I was super happy. But those events were far and few between.
In the weeks and months leading to Baby FAF’s 3rd birthday, I asked Mr. FAF if he wanted to do anything for our son (i.e. inviting our neighbors and their kids over for a buffet party). Mr. FAF said it wasn’t necessary since our son didn’t know what birthday was.
And it’s true. Baby FAF is a relatively shy boy and gets nervous when he’s around a big group of people. He also doesn’t like cake, ice-cream or sweets in general. It’s mainly because I try to keep him away from sweet stuff as much as possible. There’s little to no nutrition in those sweets.
If Baby FAF is old enough to request a birthday party, we will probably organize a simple one for him at home or at school. But our son is just so carefree and made no request, so we initially decided to not do anything on his birthday.
I also think that if we held a big party, it would be mainly for us. I saw on YouTube how many parents threw elaborate themed birthday parties for their one-year-olds and two-year-olds and can’t stop wondering how much they spent on those things.
A week before the big day, Mr. FAF and I changed our minds. We indeed wanted to celebrate the day our son was born, but not in a typical way. We decided to go to a steak house for three reasons.
First, none of us (maybe except for my mother-in-law) like cake. It’s too sweet for me. Mr. FAF generally doesn’t like sweet stuff, and neither does Baby FAF.
We did go to Giant to look at the cakes on display and just couldn’t bear the thought of trying to finish a huge cake loaded with sugar. We bought a cake for my MIL on her birthday and threw away half of it after trying really hard to stuff it down our bellies.
Our family doesn’t really like sweets.
Second, Mr. FAF and I had been wanting to take my MIL to a steakhouse near where we live. She’s leaving for China soon, and we wanted her to try some authentic American dishes besides all the Chinese food that we eat every day.
It would be a nice occasion for us to be together and spend the big bucks (kinda of) on one dinner.
The birthday celebration
On Baby FAF’s birthday, which happened to be a Saturday, our family went to the steakhouse and ordered delicious-looking dishes on the menu. Baby FAF wanted to eat only the French fries and drink water.
We said “Happy Birthday” to him, but I don’t think he knew what it meant. After all, he was still learning English and was too young to understand what birthday was. He threw a couple of tantrums in public here and there as usual, but it was all under control.
Well-done steak with French fries (me), tacos (Mr. FAF), and grilled salmon with broccoli (my MIL). We all had water for drinks. This celebratory meal cost us $57.
Mr. FAF also thanked me for giving birth to our wonderful son. Memories of that day in the hospital came back so vividly.
We just couldn’t believe that we’d been married for 4.5 years, that we already have a three-year-old son, and that we are having another baby on the way. Time went by so fast.
When I sent my dad photos of the food, he asked me why the birthday party looked so simple. Maybe he was expecting a big birthday cake with lots of candy, fruit, fancy decorations and other kids surrounding our son.
He made me feel bad about not throwing our son a big birthday party for a few minutes. But I just told him we didn’t think it was necessary since Baby FAF didn’t know it yet. The dinner cost us $57 in total, and that’s what we were comfortable with.
What will stay with us is the memory of our family spending time together, and I will always feel warm and fuzzy inside thinking about the day our son was born.
My birthday and Mr. FAF’s are coming up and only two days apart from each other. Our birthdays are about a week away from when my MIL goes back to China.
We might take her out again mainly to treat her to a good meal and thank her for her help. The meal will also be our birthday celebrations. In other words, when we go out to eat, it will be for multiple purposes.
And next year, when our son is big enough to know what a birthday is, we will listen to him and his wishes and make a party happen within reason and on a budget.