Because Ronnie’s birthday is eleven days after Christmas, I try extra hard to give it the attention it deserves.

This year was no different, and he managed to blow out candles three times, enjoying birthday cookies at school, two birthday cakes at home and even a birthday hot fudge sundae at his favorite restaurant.

The celebration got under way on his actual birthday, which happened to be the first Monday the kids returned to school after winter break.

I got up extra early that morning to make cookies for him to share with his classmates at lunch, and I even turned one of his old tee shirts into a birthday shirt by decorating it with permanent marker saying, "Happy Birthday to Me!"

Ronnie waited until after school to open his gifts, most of which were purchased at the Target after-Christmas toy sale (same as last year, the year before, etc.).

He also received the one item from his Christmas list that Santa had deemed "too extravagant for a nine-year-old."

By the time we had gone out to dinner as a family and then shared a football-themed birthday cake, I felt Ronnie’s birthday had received the attention it deserved.

When I went to bed that night, I said a silent, "thank you" that the days of home birthday parties were finally over.

Then, Ronnie woke up the next morning and asked, "So, how many people can I invite to my sleepover?"

"Your WHAT?" I asked.

"You know, my sleepover … for my birthday. Can I invite five or six people over this year?" he persisted.

Obviously, our little family celebration hadn’t satisfied Ronnie’s appetite for birthday fun.

With a sigh, I told him we would get his father’s opinion on the matter that night.

Ronnie’s birthday parties over the years have been loud, messy affairs because he likes to invite everybody in his class. We made the mistake of letting him get away with doing just that for kindergarten through second grade.

Then, we came up with what seemed to be a solution. Ron and I told Ronnie to invite just his best friends over to spend the night.

Last year, that meant Ben and Noah came over and the three of them stayed up all night just to prove they could do it. It really wasn’t a big deal for us because they spent most of their time playing video games in the basement.

When Ronnie asked his daddy if he could invite six friends over to spend the night, Ron gave him the go-ahead, just as I expected. Then, I started making phone calls and kept my hopes up that some of the families would already have other plans for the weekend.

Luck was with me and only half our guests could make it. I happily welcomed three boys into our home that evening and was even more thrilled to send them on their way in the morning.

Ronnie’s 10th birthday, after six days of celebrating, was finally over, and the house was still standing.

Next December, I’m sure to be so caught up in preparing for Christmas that once again, I will feel a moment of sadness for "poor little Ronnie" who has the birthday that almost gets overlooked.

And then Ronnie and I will do whatever it takes to make sure that just doesn’t happen.

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has been married to a Marine for 18 years and currently lives in Springfield, Va. You may e-mail her at or visit her Web site at

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