Guest blogger Jessica Katz: As my daughter's first birthday approaches next month, the invites for other first birthdays are coming in as well. We have gotten a few invitations that have said "no gifts"; in lieu of gifts, they are taking donations for a
charity of their choice. One was collecting diapers for moms who can't afford diapers. If they can't afford diapers, should they be having kids? I mean, diapers are sort of a basic. If they can't afford those, how will they afford food and medicine?
I felt bad for the little kids who will be turning one without a single gift to unwrap. And then I felt a sudden anxiety: Was I being politically incorrect by letting people give my daughter presents? Was I
being greedy? Who knew there were so many rules when celebrating a baby's
birthday? I was already worried that people would frown that I was serving a non-organic, sugar-laden cake.
I asked one of the "PC" moms why she was banning gifts from the soiree.
The answer? "I felt like people will think that I am asking for gifts by throwing
a party. My son already has a lot of toys
, and I really have nowhere to put
Another mom told me, "It is the right way to teach your children not to
be greedy and materialistic." Now, when I was a child, I was never asked to bring a donation rather than a birthday gift. Everyone
knows you have parties to get gifts. And of course, gifts are good. If people
don't bring my daughter birthday gifts, she won't have toys
: My husband has
banned toy-buying. But would she be seen as a greedy monster because she opened
presents at her party?
What happened to the excitement of picking out a birthday gift for your best
friend? To proudly taking it with you to the birthday party, hoping she
opens it first and it is her favorite? To going through your birthday loot after
the party is over? To the fine art of writing thank-you cards and mailing them
after the festivities? In short, what happened to the birthday traditions we always knew?
Asking for donations gets awkward. How much am I supposed to ask people to donate? What's the appropriate amount? I find joy in picking out a gift for someone;
the donating thing robs me of that joy, too. And children need toys
age with your
children, and therefore new toys
are needed. A birthday is a great time to get
them, even if you need to store them for a while.
As far as I am concerned, bring
on the presents -- and let them eat cake!