Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It's The Little Things - Easy Ways to Make Birthdays Special

Over the years my husband and I have made little silly traditions to make certain occasions or days fun for the kids. For instance, on Saturdays when our church hosts their men's ministry meetings, my husband got into the habit of bringing home little donuts for the kids. This started about 5 years ago, and to this day ALL five of my kids - ages 20 to 10- love it when it's "donut day".

Sometimes I am surprised about how important those little things are to our children. I think a great part about traditions is that they tend to bond families together. In that light I'd like to share a few things my family does, both serious and silly, that have meant much to the kids.

Birthday Blessing
On everyone's birthdays, we have a tradition of saying one thing that we love about that person. We do this in the evening, right before our family prayer time. We've had to put parameters on the comments, such as reminding the young ones that "You have cool hair" isn't really something about the birthday person, but rather how he/she looks.

Why do we do this? Because we realized that so many times we go through life without knowing how people view us, what they like about us, how we've blessed them. It is a wonderful uplifting time for the birthday person, and it also teaches everyone else how to be observant and thankful and verbal about it.

Birthday Balloons
I started this when my firstborn had his first birthday. I tied a bunch of balloons together and then taped them to his bedroom door the night before his birthday. Then when he awakened, he'd see a colorful, cheerful reminder of his special day.

This past year I realized I didn't have any birthday balloons in the house the night before my second son turned 15. I commented about this to my 17 year old daughter, and I told her I didn't think it would be that big of a deal for my boy. She looked at me in horror and said, "Mom! You HAVE to do birthday balloons. We all love that!!!" Who knew that even my older kids liked that?

Birthday Person Gets to Choose the Birthday Meal, Type of Cake
I ask my kids what they'd like to eat on their birthdays, with a specific budget limit. Sometimes they chose to go out to a pizza place, but in recent years they've loved having pizza at home. This simple act shows the birthday person that they are special in a very tangible way.

My kids also get to choose their birthday cakes, which I make. Who can afford $30 for a tiny store bought cake? I give them the choice of homemade (from scratch) chocolate cake, ice cream cake, or ice cream sandwich cake. We party like crazy with our cakes!

Birthday Day Off
Since we homeschool, it's been our tradition that when it's someone's birthday, everyone gets the day off of school. This really does promote a truly celebratory atmosphere in our home.

Birthday Blessing Prayer
Each night our family's habit is to spend a few moments in prayer together. It's amazing how you can "hear" someone's heart when they pray. On birthdays, our prayers are all targeted specifically for the birthday person. It has been humbling to hear my young ones praying for their siblings' future spouses, careers, ministries, etc. And how wonderful for the birthday person to hear someone praying for them.

These are a few easy birthday traditions we have - we also have everyday life traditions, but that's a post for another time.

You Won't Know What's Special Unless You Ask
Just as I was surprised about how big of a deal birthday balloons are for my kids, you may be surprised, too, by the little things you do that make your children feel special. Go ahead, ask them. Wait for an opportune time, and say "What are some things daddy or I do that make you feel like a special person to us?" You may be surprised by the answer.

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