Ian and I have been together forever. We've known each other since we were 12 and been married for 18 years. So we've celebrated plenty of birthdays and special ocassions together. Yesterday my wonderful husband turned 47.
Over the years, the way we choose to celebrate the big events in our lives has evolved. Rather than being a couple who buys presents for each other, we prefer to do it differently and don't do gifts. Being gift-free eliminates so much stress and takes away the potential for disappointment. The expectation of him buying you the perfect present or you getting him something that ticks all his boxes, can lead to so much unnecessary tension. If you fail to read your partner's mind or find something that they think somehow proves your love for them, it can literally ruin your big day. And yes I speak from experience. Once Ian surprised me with jewellery. The lovely little box promised so much, but the plain gold chain inside (lovely as it was) disappointed me dreadfully. Did Ian think I was plain, unfeminine and unworthy of anything fancy? My response was irrational, ungrateful and frankly pathetic. It put a downer on a special occasion and made me feel like a horrendous human being for my ingratitude.
Also, with the current economic climate being what it is, buying costly but unnecessary items is literally draining cash out of the family coffers. Extravagant gestures don't impress me. Love and appreciation can be expressed without a big price tag. Ever since we chucked out this expensive tradition, we have been free to express ourselves without relying on material things and expensive surprise gifts. (However my mum still asks us every year what we've bought for each other and looks so disappointed when I say "Nothing!")
This year we decided that a few days away together would be a nice way to celebrate the long weekend leading up to Ian's birthday. Our Veggie Vacation in Leicester proved to be a gastronomical delight of vegetarian proportions. We had some fun shopping, picking up some band merchandise from HMV, novelty t-shirts from a quirky printing shop, some goodies from The Disney Store and some Minecraft stuff from Forbidden Planet. We also got to spend some quality time with Ian's big sister Debbie while we were there, which was lovely.
The next day we went to Alton Towers, staying overnight in the new Enchanted Village accommodation. As Merlin Annual Pass holders we often visit Alton Towers and always enjoy ourselves. Our little lodge in the village was just so adorable, looking like something a hobbit would inhabit in the Shire. The attention to detail, from the wooden log cushions to the beautifully decorated kids' bunk room to the fairy door in the wall, was just magical. We loved it!
Two days in the park was plenty of time to do everything we wanted to do. The queues are still pretty short on the big rides, although CBeebies Land is quite busy. The girls were able to hit the rollercoasters, while Ian and I did the kid friendly rides and attractions with Freddy. It's a great day out for all of us.
After our few days away, we came back home ready to treat Ian to his annual birthday meal. Ian is an absolute rock star to us, so a rock music themed dinner party was our plan. The girls and I designed a Mexican buffet style meal with a rock twist, using rock group/food puns alongside some gothic Ozzy Osbourne 'Prince of Darkness' style decor. Iron Maiden beer fitted the theme perfectly. Blasting out some Black Sabbath, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin on vinyl and wearing rock band T-shirts completed the evening.
Ian's birthday has been fabulous and we have had a lovely time. It has been a great way to end the summer holidays. Next week Ella will be back at university and Kezia and Freddy will be back at school. The prospect of going back to reality isn't filling me with much joy, but I have some plans to make the most of my time being here at home on my own again. Kezia's 13th birthday is in October so I'm going to start planning for that and Christmas is only a few weeks away!! Any excuse for some more family celebrations!