Monday, September 30, 2013

How We Celebrated Birthdays with Young Children!

I recently had a wonderful time in this Autumn weather of counting my blessings as I am a September birthday girl (I don't mind telling you how many birthdays this makes, but I always heard it wasn't good manners for a woman to tell!). I will say that I think the 50s are a great season!  

I know that some people consider every day the same, and there is not a lot of hoopla over someone’s birthday. That’s okay, too. Consider the family of Jim Elliot.  

Jim was a missionary who was martyred in 1956 for his faith at 28 years of age—he was murdered by the Huaorani Indians in Ecuador to whom he felt called to bring the Gospel. When Jim was only twenty-two, he said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”

In Jim’s household growing up, his parents took the view that each day mattered the same to God, so there was not a lot of fuss made over birthdays.  They founded their belief on Romans 14:5 which states, “One man considers one day more sacred than another;  another man considers every day alike.  Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.”  In their minds, they were convinced. 

I fall on the other side of the coin. I am fully convinced that some days are special days, “holy days,” such as holidays and birthdays. I am grateful that we began birthday traditions in our young family that will forever be a part of my children's childhood memories. 

I made a simple birthday flag out of felt before 2 of our 4 children were born. Our daughter, Blair, was nearly 4 when we made it "together," and our second child, John, was an infant. 

It's pictured below (thanks to Ann Hibbard for the idea in her book Family Celebrations) The balloons are hot glued on, but each child’s name is removable with Velcro or tape (I use the same banner and just change the name for that child's birthday). Each child has removable milestones from their life on the banner made out of felt, and dated on back. Here's what my son's (Alex) flag looks like:

Alex’s graphics are a tooth, (the year he lost his first tooth) a swing, (representing the year he learned to pump a swing) a deer, (the year he first went hunting) and I put a “P” on a sticky note with an American flag (he can now vote for the President of the United States!).

Our children’s birthdays were like no other day of the year!  On their birthday when they were small, they had the option of sleeping in our bed!  If not, I made sure they had fresh sheets for their birthday. I called special friends the day before, and asked if they could call on the birthday and leave a message.  

They wake up to pictures of themselves from their birth at the hospital to each year, all spread on the kitchen table in frames.  Signs are posted in the house saying “Happy Birthday!” (I go around the house gathering frames and putting up signs right before I go to bed the night before).

I serve their favorite foods for all three meals! (you have to gather everything a few days ahead so you're ready, of course!)

I interview each child on their birthday and record it. I make their first recording before they are born ... it is the sound of their heartbeat at the doctor’s office.  They are loved before they are even born!

Next, the whole family goes on a family birthday outing (once, my hubby had to meet us there because it came at a busy work time, but usually he was able to take the day off and we went in one car). 

For the outings, we have gone horseback riding, go-cart riding, putt-putting, museum depended on the child’s wishes. We listen to the tape of their birthday interviews in the car as we leave for the outing. How fun it is to hear their voices change over the years! 

They open their presents after the family celebration dinner, as each family member says what they most appreciate about that person.  My husband prays over that child in thanksgiving to God for their life. Because the entire day has been centered on the birthday child, gift-giving is purposefully placed at the end. They fall into bed on their birthday night knowing how much they are loved.

♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥

Enjoy the pictures below from my birthday weekend last weekend. Some of you already saw them on Instagram {@juanamikels}. ☺ I came home the night before my birthday to flowers and a cake with a beautiful note from my husband. He had arranged dinner for us with some friends. He had another small cake delivered to the table! We have a lot of cake. Would you like to come over?

It was parents' weekend at our sons' college (they attend same university). Now that was a wonderful that it was the same weekend! That was a huge blessing!

John (21), me, & Alex {yes Alex (19) had a moustache in the photo,
but it went off 5 minutes after this was taken!}
My hubby suggested it, and next thing I knew, it vanished :-)
I'd love to hear your family birthday traditions!

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Walk by Faith, 

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