12/17/2005

Birthday Blues

Jacob's best friend is turning 5. We love this kid. He is a fantastic kid with a great mom, and Jacob begs to play with him daily. His mom sent out this great invitation for a Superhero birthday party, the kind that make the rest of us mommy slackers look bad. It's going to be a great party. There's just one problem. It's on Sunday. These people are, obviously, not Mormon. We went to the party last year, which was also on Sunday, and I think we are going this year, too. Yet even though I know my kid will love it, and everybody will have a good time, I still feel a little weird about it. We've become great friends with this family, and I'm sure they would understand if I told them we don't have parties on the Sabbath, and yet, I also feel like they might feel a little betrayed, and I know the boys would feel more than a little disappointed. Any thoughts on how to work around this conundrum? Anybody else face this problem in non-Mormon communities?

16 Comments:

Blogger Tracy M said...

I face this problem with my own non-mormon family...

A very kind and thoughtful seminary teacher I know suggested that fellowshipping and connecting with people can sometimes be the best way to be an example. Alienating a friend (or my mom) is not going to endear our faith or make them want to know more. As long as it does not become habbitual to misstep on the Sabbath, don't beat yourself up over it.

Thinking like this has helped me find harmony within my own extended family, who would NOT understand my missing a celebration becasue it was Sunday.

That said, I know there are folks who feel very differently, but this works for us. Good luck.

12/17/2005 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger FluffyChicky said...

You have to do what you think is right and not worry about what others may think. If you feel weird about it, then maybe talk to your friend after the party about it. In my family (and with a lot of my friends), Sunday is the ONLY day of the week that most of us CAN get together and celebrate an event. My two kids had their birthday parties on Sundays and I don't feel bad about it at all. I still went to church that day and so did everyone that came to the party and we had a grand old time. I still consider myself a good, active, Mormon mommy, even if I do like to party on Sundays.

12/17/2005 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger Julie M. Smith said...

We face this about every other month and I hate, hate, hate, hate it.

We won't go if the party is at a place with money involved (i.e., pizza place, etc.) but we will consider it if it is at a home or park, but even then, we are often weighing many other factors and sometimes say no.

One thing to consider: you will feel like a grinch-like mom if you say no. But if you don't start suggesting that there are things we don't do because we are LDS when he's little, do you think it will be easier to start when he's a teen? Doubtful.

12/17/2005 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie J said...

We just had my daughter's 1 year party on Sunday. It was the only day we could do it. All that came were LDS, but they were also only family. It wasn't a huge celebration--just cake and ice cream and presents, so DH and I thought it would be okay. On another note, a few years ago my friend had her bridal shower on Sunday. I went back and forth as to whether I should attend. In the end I went, because this was a dear friend--plus there were only 5 other people there. I did not regret it. I mean we have friends and family over on Sunday all the time to hang out. I go to other's houses to hang out too. I don't see too much of a difference.

It is a tough call though.

12/17/2005 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger a spectator said...

I think that if you are going to make it an issue, you need to do it now and not later. It would be easy to tell Mom and Jacob, "I'm sorry, we don't do parties on Sunday because it is our Sabbath. Could we have birthday boy over for a special birhday play date next Tuesday?"

Boys get their own party, mom knows why you can't come (but wonders why you came last year, see the start now and not later thing) and MAY even consider this when scheduling next year's party.

Most Americans now see no difference between Saturday and Sunday, so I think you should tell them why you do. I grew up with a "no playing on Sundays" rule--no friends over, no playing outside, no going to friends' houses. Made things easy.

I would, however, react differently to a family event.

12/17/2005 10:49:00 PM  
Anonymous heather h said...

eventaully Jacob will be old enough to remind you that you let him go to parties on sundays and he doesn't understand why at 16 he still can't go to parties on Sunday. You'll need to draw a line that works for you and stick with it- be consistent in what your family rule is. If you don't define it then you and Jacob will have a hard time in the future choosing what is and isn't ok.

If it were me, we wouldn't go.

12/18/2005 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger TftCarrie said...

Maybe you could have him go as one of his favorite Book of Mormon "Superheroes." Missionary work is a great thing to do on the Sabbath!

12/18/2005 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger Ana said...

Yep. We face it. We don't go to the parties. We tell them that we save Sunday for church things and family things. We drop a present off (if I remember) and tell them we wish we could make it. You can probably glean from that that I'm okay with family celebrations on Sunday but not with friends' birthday parties.

Really like spectator's suggestion.

12/18/2005 11:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

I have so enjoyed reading this post. I'm a Mo and my husband is a NoMo (as in Mormon and Non-Mormon). Before we got married the deal was that I would be raising Mo babies, and DH has really been very supportive/tolerant of this.

About a month ago, I was really sick and when we came home from church (DH doesn't attend--that three hour block is a good use of time for reading the NY Times without interruption) he announced he was going to take the older child to see the new Wallace/Grommitt (sp?) movie. I immediately said that wasn't something we 'do' on Sunday.

He didn't take her, but he was a bit annoyed. He was trying to do a good thing, to get one non-napper out of the house so that the mommy could have a couple hours of total quiet.

I agree with what Julie M said because I think it is only going to get harder for me to model/enforce? what I would like things to be as the kids get older.

But, I feel guilty because I know that too often, I observe/model the letter, rather than the spirit of the Sabbath. I mean, really, what did we do today that made today 'holy'? I made pancakes (which is a huge deal for my little people). We went to church. We stayed inside because it is freezing (hasn't been over 30 degrees the entire month), people took naps, we read a couple Christmas books, watched the Charlie Brown Xmas, had a dinner that everyone liked, talked to family on the phone, etc., etc. I could have made a better effort about creating a Sabbath.

So, I am glad to know that I'm not the only person who struggles with this sort of thing, regardless of family structure. Thanks for the post.

12/18/2005 11:50:00 PM  
Anonymous claire said...

Oh, Heather, I feel for you. We've faced this lots of times.

We are similar to Julie's family: if it's at Chuck E Cheese (uGH!), Gymboree, Karate studio etc. we don't go. If it's at someone's home, and it's a 'family party' we usually do. So our rule is "family time" on Sunday afternoons, and the birthday party part is a corollary.

My best friend has often planned her parties specifically on Saturdays so we can attend.

Tracy definately has a point about families though. We just don't extend it to friends in our family.

12/19/2005 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

I feel ok about this party because it has enhanced a friendship that has also allowed for some fellowshipping--i.e., the mom comes to our Mormon book group, as well as the ward Christmas party and an Enrichment night. (She says whenever she makes friends with Mormons, they always invite her places!) I think it's been an important step in our relationship.

That said, I don't want to make it a habit of going to birthday parties on Sunday, and I do think we are getting to the age where Jacob can remember and say things like "Hey, we went to THAT party on Sunday!" Thanks for all of the suggestions and commiseration about this very tricky issue!

12/19/2005 03:26:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

Since you are such good friends, I would tell her about the issue so she doesn't unintentionally create bigger problems down the road.
While at the party, or the week after when you thank her or tell her you had a good time, say something like, "We usually try to have Sundays but for church and family time, but we decided your son's birthday party since our whole family was invited and it was at your home.....or something like that. If you are going to be good friends you don't want her to end up planning an elaborate chuck e cheese party next year that you'll have to turn down.

12/20/2005 04:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Chad too said...

We face this each year when one local support group for children with/surviving cancer hold their big Christmas Party at fancy hotel -- on Sunday.

Part of me wants to RSVP by saying that I find it offensive to have a playful children's party that focuses on Santa and presents on the Sabbath. Part of me realizes that, at least here where I live, holding such a thing on Sunday poses no conflict to the vast majority of the kids this group serves. The realist in me also considers that the hotel is probably donating the ballroom for the party and Sunday is likely the only day they'd agree to do that.

So ultimately I call and politely decline saying that our family doesn't participate in parties on Sundays. The charity is, as always, gracious about it.

12/20/2005 03:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heather, I think your instinct for betrayal is well placed--especially since the Mom is participating in Mo activities--there is a two way relationship and life sharing going on here, and to not go to the party may be a step backward. I have no children and am a non-mo but enjoy reading the blog here, have mo friends, friends with kids and friends with varying religous beliefs. I think the fact that it is a home party may be a good yardstick. As I said before, the fact that she is happy and enjoys coming to your functions says a lot about her and to not go to this birthday party for someone that Jacob is close to well, the principle of the thing may not outweigh the potential hurt feelings. As far as the worry of making it a habit--how often are there parties on Sundays? Once a month? Less? More? There is no magic number sure, but once again, don't let the fear of makingan expception a habit keep you from building what already sounds like a positive relationship. Think of all the things this Mom could do to offend your belief system---how far down on the list would this be.

Not an expert in anything at all here...j

12/20/2005 07:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...but, if this mom goes to LDS acitivites with you and you consider it fellowshipping. What exmaple does that set about the importance you place on the commandment of keeping the sabbath holy? Suppose one day she joins the church and she remembers you came to parties (how is she to know that you only drew the line at parties) and then well...you get the picture.

12/21/2005 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger annegb said...

I would err on the side of mercy and go to the party. I think God would.

12/26/2005 04:58:00 PM  

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