I love to get questions on the blog, or right in my inbox. Here’s one that recently came to me.
“Cindy, with seven kids and limited resources, how do you and Bill make birthdays special?”
In the age of over-the-top birthday parties, it’s a good question. We decided early on that our goal for birthdays was for our kids to be celebrated and valued. We wanted our birthday celebrations to be yearly milestone events, touchstones for the kids to remind them of who they are and whose they are.
Here’s Sara Maria. We celebrated her 19th birthday last night. 🙂 I was so happy that her Spring Break coincided with her birthday and we were able to celebrate with all the Finley Family Traditions. Here’s what we do:
Usually decorations are a combo of streamers and balloons, or candles and flowers, but occasionally a theme arises among the tribe. Themes like “Horses” or “Reptiles”or “Lord of the Rings.” The point is simply to think about what makes the birthday girl or boy feel special.
Aluminum foil usually is the medium of choice. ‘Nuff said.
Grace has had Chicken Pot Pie for her birthday meal forever. Once Josiah had Shrimp and Grits, that sealed it for him. Others like to switch it up. Sara Maria had Loaded Potato Soup. Regardless, the birthday girl or boy picks out the meal.
After the meal, comes my second-favorite birthday tradition. When each of the kids joined our family, I bought a birthday journal for them. I recorded my thoughts, feelings, prayers, and impressions of the day they were born, or for Katya, the day she joined our family. Although I do write in these journals occasionally, I always write in them for their birthday.
After the table is cleared from the meal, I pull out the birthday journal, jot down the details of the day – the meal, what we’ve done, etc. Then one-by-one the kids answer this question:
After they answer and I record, they present their gift to the birthday girl or birthday guy.
Grandparents and Sara Maria’s boyfriend joined us this year, and so partly for fun, and partly to give them a feel for this tradition, I went back and read aloud some highlights from her siblings have given through the years.
- Cameron – “Wia is a good sister. She helps me clean up and get on my pajamas and see firetrucks.”
- Grace – “She has a great imagination. She spends a lot of time in nature and uses nature to build houses and make house things. She’s great at being a leader.”
- Josiah – “She has great games like Robin Hood’s Hide-out. When we’re sad, she always makes us laugh. She’s always good at climbing trees and never turns down a chance to have fun.”
- Piper – “She’s so warm at night and good to snuggle.”
- Adelyn – “Sara Maria, you’re beautiful, you’re funny, and people listen to you when you talk.”
- Katya – “I like to be with you. I like your haircut. I like that we both have brown eyes.”
After the gift-giving, it’s time for the birthday cake.