The good old backyard

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Sue Ellen Ross – The Southern Yankee

Spring is the favorite time of the year for many people, myself included. It has different significance for different people, depending on what happens in your personal life.

In Indiana, it was a time for rejoicing, not only because of Easter, planting gardens and high school graduations. It is also the time you can come out of your cave (home) for the first time in (many cold past) months and breathe fresh air, if you don’t live too close to the steel mills.

It is also the time of year when both my children were born – Tony in April and Wendy in May.

My son’s April 26 birthday usually fell on a day that he was in school, so the party was always planned for a Saturday.

There were no Chuckie Cheeses, Celebration Stations, or Six Flags during his growing-up years, so we had to improvise. I always offered to take the kids to the bowling alley or the miniature golf course, but those places didn’t do birthday parties like they do today.

That left the backyard.

When I look at old pictures, there are some wonderful scenes in that backyard. My kids in their Sunday best, surrounded by all their little friends, as they blew out the candles on their homemade birthday cake.

Dropping clothespins in the bottle, trying to pin a tail on a paper donkey, and playing musical chairs are other activities that I caught on camera.

And all the kids went home with a special party favor, usually a bag of marbles for the boys, and miniature Barbies for the girls.

Both my children loved these types of parties, so I continued them. I figured this saved me a lot of money.

Until the kids got older.

The games changed, the homemade cake was replaced by a store-bought one, but we still dragged that old banquet table to the yard for the annual birthday events.

The only problem with backyard parties is that there is no time limit. My kids celebrations were so much fun that no one wanted to go home.

At one particular party, when some of the parents came by to pick up their kids, they decided to sit for a spell to watch the action.

I enjoy company, so of course I offered something to drink.

Meanwhile, just like a family holiday dinner, after a little rest and a few bathroom stops, the kids were ready to go again. They cracked open the gallon jug of bubbles, and also began a vigorous game of hide-and-seek.

By that time, the cake was completely gone, as was the ice cream and drinks. It was getting toward dinner time.

What to do?

Of course, I had to order pizza and drinks for everyone, and since it was Tony’s birthday, we had to throw in a few orders of bread sticks and garlic bread. The tab was pretty high, I had to feed 10 kids and 8 parents.

This particular party ended up costing more than those $10/per child places.

But I am not sorry I planned those backyard parties, and I would recommend them to anyone wanting a unique birthday experience for their child.

Just don’t make them too much fun, because no one will want to leave.