Editor's Note: Parents feeling party pressure

I have a lot of admiration for Feed’em Soup.

When it comes to bold ambition and optimism, as an organization, they’re tough to beat. Two years ago Feed’em Soup was a small group of 20-somethings ready to change their community. Today, the group feeds several hundred people each week, holds regular events and fundraisers and has written, for a fledgling nonprofit in an economic downturn, a remarkable success story.

But if getting a nonprofit off the ground is like climbing a mountain, 2013 may be the Alps for Feed’em Soup. In an unfortunate coincidence of timing, the organization is losing its roommate – which has been picking up a share of rent and utilities – at the same time it is expanding its meal schedule. That leaves the meal service with increased overhead at the same time that it is trying to increase services.

But in typical Feed’em Soup style, the public face is ambitious and optimistic. Organizers seem confident they can make this work. And for the community, I sincerely hope they do.

• • • • •

I am recovering today from throwing a birthday party over the weekend for a 7-year-old.

It’s not easy for a parent to plan a birthday party these days, if it ever was. You have to straddle the line between keeping up with the Joneses and teaching your kid about reasonable expenses.

There are some things my  husband and I have always stood firm on, things we looked at and said, “We are never spending that on a little kid’s birthday party. That’s just crazy.”

Unfortunately for us, our son is apparently pretty popular. He’s been invited to a lot of birthday parties this past year, many of them themed parties with impressive favors at fancy locations – the exact kind of thing we always said we would never do.

So the dilemma: we didn’t want to break the bank, but we didn’t want to give our kid a reputation for having lame parties, either.

Finally, we had it at home – the most economical choice – but we did hire a local magician to come in and entertain. Everyone seemed to have a good time; at least, no one wanted to leave when their parents arrived. They didn’t even destroy the house, though a neighbor with younger children, as she watched a dozen first-graders chase each other screaming in circles through the living room, did tell me I had helped her decide she did not want to host a big birthday party at home for her daughter.

We also learned that one should never come between a group of children and a pinata, no matter how authoritative one believes oneself to be; and that store-bought pinatas are apparently built to withstand a beating by a minor-league hockey team, so you shouldn’t worry that it will break before every kid gets a turn.

It was chaotic and exhausting and, just like last year, in the throes of the party I swore to myself never to host one again.

Then I tucked my 7-year-old big kid into bed, asked what the best part of the day was, and he rapturously sighed, “Everything!”

Ah, well. It’s only once a year, right?

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