Birthday Celebrations

During birthday celebrations when all the focus is on gifts sometimes, one of the things that gets lost is the sense of this day being a milestone and a time to celebrate the growth and change in our children over the past year. That's a really an important thing to do and there are lots of different ways to do it.

I started writing a letter to my son every year and I give it to him on his birthday, and it captures what that particular year was like…what were his favorite games, toys, movies…what his accomplishments were from that year …like the first year he learned to ride a bike. I always end it with a line that says "No matter how much you change and grow, I will still love you just as much". This a great ritual for a birthday celebration even when the child gets to be a teenager. I save those and some day I'll put them in a book for him.

A woman I know has a very visual way of celebrating her children's growth. She takes a photograph of her children every year wearing the same outfit. She started this when they were 1 year old and these outfits were huge. As they got taller, they filled them out. For her daughter, it's a "dress up dress" that belonged to her mother. For her son, it is literally a white dress shirt of his father's. So she takes these series of pictures every year on their birthday and they are all displayed in a series on the wall going up the stairs in their house.

Also, I have a milestone sheet in my book and if you are more ambitious and especially in years that are really major when you want to talk about the big changes, you can paint things on the sheet that have to do with the amazing milestones from that year. Then you tape it to a threshold going from one room to another, and cut a slit so they have to walk through the sheet and it is kind of a threshold experience.

Children like these ways to celebrate these birthdays because it singles out how important these things are and gives the kids a sense of accomplishment…a sense of identity…and a sense of how loved they are…you are obviously paying attention to them.