Just as we celebrate a baby’s “birth day”, when they are born and enter the world, a child’s birthday can be a time to hold him foremost in your heart and remind him of how glad you are that he arrived. There will probably be gifts, but birthdays and other holidays become a day apart when you mark them with your own traditions that have nothing to do with presents. One nice thing about building birthday traditions is that they can reflect your own special family and the things you hold dear. Because birthdays are not part of the regular holiday calendar, it helps to keep your traditions fairly simple and easy to incorporate into your daily rhythm. This is especially important as families expand or children get older.
An easy thing is to allow your child to choose a meal on their actual birthday, since parties are often pushed off to weekends or other times when school or work demands mean more family and friends are free to participate. On the actual day, you can help sculpt a menu, but give them the latitude to have a completely self-chosen meal. Even if it’s macaroni with corn and potatoes for dinner and still more carbs for dessert, it’s just one day a year and can be fun for the whole family. Being a part of the prep, helping with the meal or making a special dessert to mark the day is a way of giving a gift to family or guests- a way to share the blessings of the day.
You could prepare a special display for your child’s birthday, like a seasonal table but featuring them. Pictures of themselves across the years of their lives are usually captivating for children, as when they look through their own baby books. A birthday ring (a traditional German way of celebrating that many in this country have adopted), filled with ornaments marking their milestones or important events, like a new sibling, or seasonal elements from the time of year they were born can help your child reflect on the year past. It’s fun to tell them their birth stories using the elements in this display as props. The pictures and props help them learn their own story, giving them a piece of themselves to hold close.
Special clothes can be a nice way to mark the day. A birthday child might enjoy wearing a silk crown to give any outfit an extra bit of zing. Older children will probably like wearing the crown around the house, even if they are “too mature” to wear it out and about.
Then, there is always the inevitable birthday party to consider. A trick for us adults sometimes is finding a way for the party to genuinely celebrate the birthday child instead of overshadowing or overwhelming them. Parties can be so much fun, but they can easily detract from the importance of the day. In our own house, we mark birthdays as a family. The party is then just a party, because a birthday is a great excuse for a party.
Whatever traditions your family tries, keep only the ones that feel meaningful. If we cannot fill them with our soul energy, they will seem hollow to our children, so much going through the motions. So, go reverent, go fun, but celebrate the day in a way that feels true for you and your child. Remember, just as the day they were born was the start of something beautiful, their birthday should also be so.