Celebrating birthdays, anniversaries

African marriages can be a lot of fun sometimes, but they can also be terribly boring, dull and eventless. For most African men, the wife’s birthday is an annual horror that has to be tolerated for the sake of the marriage. African women, on the other hand, look forward to their birthdays and those of their husbands and children.

John Makumbe
John Makumbe

These are often times of getting friends and family together for a feast. They are also times for enabling the families to discuss some critical issues that may get overlooked or postponed time and again until they fester and become family problems.

Most husbands will easily forget their wife’s birthday and will have to be reminded when it is too late to get a present. Then it becomes quite embarrassing for the couple as the wife will use this as an indication of how much the husband loves her.

We found out that having a close relative to whisper into the ear of the forgetful husband is a great help. In our case, my sister-in-law would remind me early in the morning, “Don’t forget today (or tomorrow) is your sugar’s birthday.” She would even help me select a nice present for my wife the day before.

When they have grown up, children can also be quite helpful in this regard. Our kids are particular about us celebrating our birthdays because they will also enjoy the goodies, unless we decide to go out for a memorable meal for just the two of us. It is not true that birthday parties and anniversaries have to be big and costly.

We have devised ways of cutting costs by having family meals instead of fully-blown parties, unless it is the critical 21st birthday. We do more of buying each other birthday cards than staging costly parties.

It is, however, important to discuss the modalities of these important occasions with the whole family so that we are always on the same page or singing from the same hymn book. Here again, what we do for one we do for the others; there will be no discrimination lest we cause serious problems in the family.

When it comes to children’s birthdays, the parents should give the children the responsibility to organize everything, including deciding on what friends and family to invite. We always suggest we be informed about the invited guests in advance so that we do not exclude some important people. Normally the children will already be aware of who the critical people to invite are.

It is equally important to insist on daytime parties rather than over-night ones. Good children will have all the fun they want during the daytime rather than demand that their birthday party be held at night. In fact, we would strongly object to any night time partying at our house. Our own anniversary parties will be celebrated during the day although the two of us may later go out for dinner at some special restaurant.

We think it is a shame for a family to fail to celebrate these special occasions due to lack of money. Ways and means of saving for these special times should be devised with the concurrence of all family members and you will be surprised at how much can be raised for special events. Fun in the family is a critical ingredient in a marriage, and we should not allow the devil to rob us and our children of these special times. Take lots of photos and allow the children to run their own albums.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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