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Mom causes a stir after saying she won't be doing yearly birthday parties for her kid

“I just don't want a bunch of people sitting around at my house all day...”

Representative Image from Canva

Are birthday parties every year required for kids?

Parents want to do right by their kids. Make them feel special, let them have fun and give them opportunities to enjoy magic before adulthood sets in. And yet, that desire can easily be suppressed by the need to keep up with the lavish events constantly seen on social media.

For many families, over-the-top activities are simply not feasible—especially ones that come year after year like birthdays. So many are going against societal expectations and instead choosing traditions that work for their unique situation. Opting for experiences over expensive gifts, for example, or having one-on-one family time instead of parties with friends.

For Marissa Light, it looks a little more like not even doing a birthday party every year.

“Under no circumstances will I be throwing my daughter a birthday party every single year,” Light said in a now-viral TikTok video. “Here's the deal: She is getting a first birthday party, she is getting a Sweet Sixteen and she is getting a graduation party. Other than that, she is not getting any more birthday parties."

And perhaps Light isn’t totally off-base in her reasoning. According to PBS, kids don’t even remember birthday parties until after they are three-years-old. That’s essentially $400 (the average amount parents spend on their kid’s party) going towards a core memory that won’t even exist.

Light went on to say that she had been to other kids' parties which were “not enjoyable” and she didn’t want to force that experience on others unnecessarily. That being said, she added, “Now look, if you are someone who genuinely enjoys throwing your child a birthday party, pop off, Queen. Do what you want to do. I'm not telling anyone else how to live their lives. I just personally don't find it necessary and I'm not going to be doing it.”

@marissalight It’s been a minute since I’ve given you a #hotmomtake … you’re welcome. #babybirthdayparty #momsoftiktok #momtok #firsttimemom #sahm #momcontent #millenialmom #birthdayparty ♬ original sound - Marissa | Lifestyle | SAHM

But that doesn’t mean that no celebrations will be had. The family will still have “dinner and cake with them every single year,” plus their daughter would get an 'All About You' day” where she would enjoy a “special breakfast” and activities of her choosing, like princess dress up, a trip to the trampoline park, etc. And when siblings come, Light’s daughter will be able to choose whether or not she wants them included in whatever birthday shenanigans are happening. So all in all, a pretty sweet deal.

This option just feels more exciting and less taxing, Light explains. While she understands that party planning is some people’s jam, she admits “it's a lot of stress on my part to organize and plan and put on the party… I just don't want a bunch of people sitting around at my house all day."

Light’s video, as most parenting videos are wont to do, drew both heavy praise and criticism.

Many thought that her choices were depriving her daughter, and not really prioritizing her happiness. This was especially true for adults who didn’t have parties growing up.

“As someone who didn’t get birthday parties, please do that for your kid,” one person wrote.

Another added, “I never had bday parties growing up, and I was always jealous of kids in my class who got them.”

Still, others found promise in the idea.

““An introverted kid will love this. Just make sure that you're celebrating that kid the way they'd like. Not the way you want to celebrate them,” one person commented.

“I LOVE the idea of experiences, so if they want to go to a show or an amusement park for their birthday.”

Some even offered up their own unconventional non-party ideas. One parent wrote, “I just bring my kids to the park with a bunch of cupcakes and any kid at the park is included.”

Whether you can or cannot get behind Light’s take on birthday parties, we can probably all agree that our energy is often best spent doing things we truly want to do. Maybe some parents will still want to arrange a get together for their friends every year. But hopefully this conversation can at least offer some permission to do so in a way that doesn’t take a huge toll. There are so many ways to make a birthday special, after all.

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Gates Foundation: The Story of Food

Food is something we all have a connection with — and not just because it keeps us alive.

Beyond the whole survival thing, food has a deeper meaning to most of us beyond chew, swallow, repeat. It plays a key role in many special occasions, from birthdays to weddings to funerals to political and religious traditions.

It serves as a centerpiece, gathering loved ones and strangers around it to feel comfort, energy, and security. No matter what’s going on around you, a good meal has the power to make everything feel OK, at least while it's being consumed.


Image via iStock.

As we honor Thanksgiving in the United States with turkey, green bean casserole (Midwest, represent!), and recliners, here’s a fun look at how different cultures around the world do something quite similar.

Koreans look forward to Chuseok every year, a major harvest festival and one their biggest holidays.

It's celebrated every year on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar on the full moon. In 2016, it fell on Sept. 15.

The Chuseok festivities begin. Image via Republic of Korea/Flickr.

During Chuseok, family members from all over give thanks to their ancestors, spend time together, and celebrate with food and traditional Korean cultural experiences. You'll find families hosting ancestor memorial services, visiting grave sites, celebrating with traditional Korean wrestling and dancing, and feasting.

According to Visit Korea, one of the main dishes prepared during Chuseok is Songpyeon, a type of rice cake. It is formed into a small ball, filled with ingredients such as sesame seeds, beans, chestnuts, and then steamed.

Songpyeon, ready for consumption. Image via Republic of Korea/Flickr.

Traditional Korean folklore holds that the person who makes the best Songpyeon in the family will meet a good spouse or give birth to an adorable baby. I'm sure that provides a fun dose of competition between single family members.

You'll also find plenty of Jeon around the Chuseok holiday, which are Korean pancakes made by slicing fish, meat, and vegetables and then lightly frying them in a batter of flour and eggs. They. Are. Delicious.

Americans like to take credit for being first at a lot of things, but historians argue that Thanksgiving wouldn't make the list. That'd go to Canada.

Way back in 1578, an explorer named Martin Frobisher held a formal celebration to give thanks for surviving the treacherous voyage from Europe. That's decades before the Pilgrims arrived to the south.

Fast forward to today and Thanksgiving Day in Canada, also known as "Le Jour de l'Action de Grace," takes place every year on the second Monday in October. Why then and not in November like in the United States? One reason is that colder climates in Canada bring earlier harvest days; there is "thanks" to be given much sooner. (Also, holidays on Mondays are kind of amazing.)

Canadian Thanksgiving spread. Image via Martin Cathrae/Flickr.

Thanksgiving dishes in Canada mainly consist of the same dishes we eat in the U.S., though they are not always prepared on Thanksgiving Day — Canadians take advantage of their whole holiday weekend, often celebrating on any one of their days off.

Sharing is caring during the Thai Pongal festival in India.

Thai Pongal is a four-day harvest festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu, a southern state of India, as well as by millions of Tamilians living all over the world, in countries like Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

Taking place every January at the end of harvest season, it's a time of love and gratitude. Farmers express thanks for nature, for the sun, and for farm animals in helping with a successful harvest.

The food widely consumed during Pongal is actually in its name. Pongal means "to boil over" and it is a sweetened dish of rice boiled with lentils served on a banana leaf and dedicated to the sun god — Surya. You can bet every family has their own special recipe.  

Women prepare a traditional sarkkarai ponggal dish: rice boiled in milk. Image via STR/AFP/Getty Image.

During Pongal, there's a big emphasis on sharing. Families share their Pongal and different fruits with neighbors and friends, and relatives to spread peace and gratitude for what they have in life.

For Jews, Sukkot is an incredibly joyful holiday that marks the end of harvest.

Taking place over seven days every fall, Sukkot is one of three biblically-based pilgrimage holidays in Judaism known as the Shalosh R'galim.

It's a significant holiday on two levels: It marks the end of harvest and commemorates the biblical Hebrews' 40 years of wandering the desert, living in temporary shelter, after their exodus from Egypt.

During Sukkot, you don't just talk about history, you re-enact parts of it. Some Jews build their own sukkah, a temporary hut-like structure, and eat in it throughout the days of the festival to pay homage to their ancestors.

A sukkah all set up. Image via RonAlmog/Flickr.

While there isn't a running list of traditional foods served during Sukkot, it's common to eat stuffed foods — like stuffed cabbage or stuffed peppers — that help to symbolize an overflowing harvest. Kreplach — a dish comprised of triangle-shaped pasta dough filled with meat — is also commonly served during Sukkot.

India's Onam festival is quite a sight with many bites.

The incredibly popular Hindu festival Onam is a harvest festival celebrated throughout the state of Kerala, India, between the months of August and September. People wait all year for this 10-day event.

I can see why.

Diners eat a lunch of 27 curries known as Onam Sadya. Image via Raveendran/AFP/Getty Images.

Marked with many rituals, such as snake boat races and flower displays, the holiday is perhaps best known for its amount of food.

The Onam Sadhya is an elaborate feast during Onam where at least 11-12 dishes are prepared for one meal served on banana leaves. Some meals will have more than 25 types of curries to try. You could call it a food sampler's heaven.

In Indonesia, Seren Taun brings villages together.

Seren Taun — which literally translate as "to give" and "year" — is an annual Sundanese rice harvest festival and ceremony in West Java, Indonesia. Held in a number of traditional villages in the area, the festival marks the close of one agricultural year and the start of the next. It's a time to reflect, to thank God for an abundant harvest, and to pray for another successful harvest in the new year. And it's a time to dance and parade around. A lot.

Farmers parade around with freshly harvested fruits. Image via Omeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images.

During the Seren Taun ceremony, farmers have a ritual: They take their rice harvest and present it to a community leader to be stored in a communal barn.

It's all about the moon at China's Mid-Autumn Festival.

The festival, also referred to as the Lantern Festival or Mooncake Festival, is celebrated in China and in other east Asian countries when the moon is believed to be at its fullest and roundest. A full moon symbolizes fulfillment in life, with good fortune and love.

Loved ones reunite for meals and conversation. Lanterns light up the area, and people feast on mooncakes — a Chinese dessert — while admiring the moon above.

It's a mooncake! Image via Jimmie/Flickr.

Whether you eat mooncakes, turkey, 25 different curries, or cranberry sauce out of a can, every tradition is special in its own way.

Our cultures may vary from one another, but we're not all that different. We all have a shared longing to feel loved and secure. And eating and giving thanks together is a way to do just that.

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5 reasons why Friendsgiving is secretly the best fall holiday there is.

Friends are your family by choice. You should celebrate them.

You've heard of Friendsgiving, right?

That's Friendsgiving (not to be confused with America's day of giving thanks or that one time you and your friends gathered to watch every single Thanksgiving episode of "Friends"). Photo via iStock.


As the name implies, Friendsgiving is just like Thanksgiving only celebrated with friends, not family. I'm a sucker for celebrations that involve food and friends, and any day that lets me celebrate both at once, so Friendsgiving is one of my favorite holidays (although — yes, Mom — I definitely love Thanksgiving, too).

But because Friendsgiving often gets overlooked, here are five reasons you should celebrate Friendsgiving too:

1. Friendsgiving fills a void for people who'd rather not spend the holiday with family.

Thanksgiving can be a very stressful, anxiety-inducing day. Many people have complicated family relationships and issues they're not ready to discuss with a table of people. And for some of us, those messy family dynamics are a deal-breaker (and rightfully so).

Photo via iStock.

For, say, an LGBTQ person whose parents aren't fully accepting or someone dating a person of a different race who has ... let's go with "old school" (*cough* racist *cough*) ... family members, Thanksgiving can be nothing short of a painful affair. So it makes sense that they'd want to skip it altogether.

But Friendsgiving? Much different. You're with the family you choose.

As Kat Kinsman wrote for CNN's Eatocracy in 2013, friends are just easier:

"We picked each other. ... We each know how to make ourselves happy, and are eager to share these best and brightest parts of ourselves, whether they're traditional dishes, blessings, stories and rituals, or something that struck our fancy this year that we're eager to give."

2. Friendsgiving is for eating whatever foods you want. And its usually done potluck-style.

Alfredo pizza fan? Go for it. Pad thai with shrimp? YES. Dessert first? Why not?

If you're not the meat-and-potatoes type that salivates over a more conventional Thanksgiving meal, Friendsgiving might be for you. Mix it up with your friends. Add variety to the table. Live a little! If you ask me, it's easier to swap in new dishes with trusting buddies than to convince Uncle Pat there's nothing to fear about chicken curry.

Photo via iStock.

And here's where your kitchen-savvy friends come in. Because with Friendsgiving, everyone brings their culinary A-game. (And bonus points if your friends come from various backgrounds and have different cultures/traditions/unique takes on the holidays to share.)

Sure, some families already do this for Thanksgiving and divvy up food responsibilities. But with Friendsgiving, it's the standard. Jessica Ferri, a Brooklyn-based writer who's hosted Friendsgiving since 2009 with her husband, says it's part what of makes the day so special.

"I really love that it gets all my friends cooking," she told Upworthy, noting that as host, she takes on the turkey every year, but friends bring plenty of other dishes. "Some of [my friends] are incredible cooks."

This is evidence of Jessica's Friendsgiving. Take me there. Now. Photo courtesy of Jessica Ferri, used with permission.

This way, there's not just one person in the kitchen who's overly stressed, sweating and panting (and possibly setting things on fire), like poor Mrs. Doubtfire.

3. Choosing Friendsgiving over Thanksgiving means more money in your already thin wallet (and less relatives to *make note* of that thin wallet, too).

Nearly 47 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. When you figure in gas, airfare, and/or potential hotel stays, it can mean one seriously wounded bank account. (And you still have Hanukkah gifts to buy!)

Photo via iStock.

If you're software consultant Justin Patterson, you might skip the travel altogether because it's just not worth it.

"Thanksgiving can be stressful," he told Upworthy. He's hosting his fourth annual Friendsgiving this year down in Austin, Texas, and says each one just keeps getting "bigger and better."

"Traveling to visit family, dealing with flights [and] traffic, and all of the B.S. that goes along with it can really put a damper on the holiday. With Friendsgiving, it's all about de-stress and relaxation."

If you care about saving money — because it may not be growing on the trees in your neighborhood these days (I've been there) — it's nice to have understanding friends to spend the holiday with, many of whom may be in the same financial boat. And, as noted up in item #1, sometimes family members aren't the most supportive people in the world, and that can reflect in how they view your financial situation too (which, of course, is none of their business in the first place, but you know ... #family).

4. You can celebrate Friendsgiving whenever you want.

Thanksgiving day is pretty official — like, on the federal calendar official. And sure, Friendsgiving can be a direct replacement for Thanksgiving, but it doesn't have to be. Pick a day, any day, and make it happen — as many times (with as many groups of friends) as you want!

Friendsgiving's date flexibility is perfect for, say, a working single parent trying to make ends meet by picking up extra shifts around the holidays or a young person who might have to work Thanksgiving day or (ridiculously) early the next morning.

Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images.

So for someone who doesn't have the concrete 9-5, paid-time-off work life, Friendsgiving's flexibility is a terrific option for the holiday.

But just to be clear: Spending a Thanksgiving with friends doesn't necessarily mean it isn't a real Thanksgiving (as some have argued). I see that point, but here's what I say to that: Not all Thanksgivings are Friendsgivings, but every Friendsgiving can be a Thanksgiving, if you want it to be.

If you're celebrating with friends on Thanksgiving Day and want to call it Thanksgiving, go for it. If you're celebrating with friends on Thanksgiving Day and want to call it Friendsgiving, that works too. But if you're celebrating with family on Thanksgiving ... it's probably weird if you call that Friendsgiving.

5. For those of us who do sign up for a familial Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving gives us another day to celebrate friendship. Because that's important!

As detailed in #1, many people opt out of the traditional Thanksgiving festivities because of (big) problematic family dynamics. But that doesn't mean everyone who chooses to celebrate Thanksgiving is in for a day of pure family bliss.

Photo via iStock.

It's actually fairly normal to feel anxious about the day for a number of reasons. Here are a few that might sound familiar...

  1. You know combative Aunt Ruth will somehow find a way to bring up how climate change isn't real. And, knowing you think differently, she'll certainly find a way to bring you into the conversation.
  2. Your dad worked as a [insert standard corporate job title] for 40 years, and you're a [insert new-age-y digital job title], and he just doesn't get it. So he makes jabs at your work (and thus, you) while passing the gravy.
  3. You know your brother-in-law will crack a Caitlyn Jenner "joke," and you'll undoubtedly ponder the "Is it worth the fight?" question in your head for the next half-hour.
  4. Your grandma's wi-fi broke, and you'll definitely be the one your family volunteers to fix it.

Don't get me wrong — family time can be wonderful. But for those of us who spend half of Thanksgiving Day feeling #blessed because we have the "best family in the world" and the other half trying not to lash out at mom because her narcissism is showing, an additional Friendsgiving holiday can be the perfect November stress-reliever.

After all, friendships are vital — it's important we prioritize our non-blood-related family during the holidays, too.

Friendsgiving may seem like a fluffy pseudo-holiday reserved only for millennials and Instagram.

But it actually does make a big difference to many people. If you feel like you could benefit from a no-stress, affordable, potluck pig-out day of giving thanks with your friends (and who couldn't?), I certainly recommend giving it a try.