The Big Birthday Lesson: A new tradition

Why do we celebrate birthdays? How do we celebrate birthdays? I find myself pondering these questions over the past few years. It seems like birthdays (along with most holidays) have been hi-jacked by our commercialized world.

People used to celebrate birthdays because it was a big deal to have made it through another year of life. Children and adults alike were not as blessed as we are to have access to healthy food and medicine. They also did not have huge blow out parties with 30 kids at an expensive location outside their home while expecting their child to be showered by $20-$40 gifts.

I decided that enough is enough. I'm putting the breaks on this train wreck. I'm not letting my children's birthdays be hi-jacked. That is when I started thinking... Now that sometimes gets me into trouble but this time I think I came up with a great way to make their birthdays special while making it into a learning experience. Here is what we did.

Starting at 6 years old we decided that a child has finally developed enough socially and mentally to understand sharing and giving. That the world is bigger then them and not centered around them.

At six years old they can handle not getting gifts from friends for their birthday. Instead, we let our daughter pick out a charity to request gifts for. This gives us an opportunity to talk about all the need there is in our own community. People need food (local food pantry), animals need food and treats (local animal shelter), people need items for their home (local emergency shelter), parks can always use trees and plants, and some parents can't afford to buy their babies anything at all (local Birthright center). After talking about all the different needs in the community she got to pick who SHE can help by having her friends bring items (wrapped like presents) to the birthday party.

You might think that our daughter would have been crying and devastated by this blow of no presents from her friends but she was not. She understood that her parents and grandparents would still buy her gifts and that she could help someone else. She decided to help the babies in need. I was amazed at how excited she became about it. Weeks before the party and before invitation where sent out she started to talk to all of her friends and their moms about not buying her a present but to instead bring a newborn item for a baby.

She was so excited to see all the gifts come in and kept asking to peak inside to see what baby item they brought. You would have thought that they were for her baby! The excitement was still there during the present opening time but the focus was not of the greedy green eyed monster wanting the next fad toy, but instead the excitement of a baby having something they would like and look cute in.

After the party was over she could not wait to deliver all the presents to the local Birthright office. She wanted to make sure they got them fast! It was hard to keep her at bay until Tuesday but what a wonderful way for her to see that she could make a difference and help someone. Walking in there with a huge bag of items to donate make her proud and gave her an even deeper giving spirit. Now the question she keeps asking is not what type of party she wants next year, but instead "Who should I get presents for when I turn 7?"

It's amazing to see the giving spirit in her growing. When you give your child a chance to give you help them to grow spiritually in ways we will never fully understand. I'm proud to say that my favorite tradition is the gift of giving to others.

What unique birthday tradition does your family have?

Find more great ideas on:
Works for me Wednesday

image from supercoolbaby.com


Cheryl@SomewhatCrunchy said...

That's great idea, and a VERY important lesson for life!

Meghan said...

I love this idea. I don't have kids, but my own birthday is coming up in a few weeks time (and Christmas in a few months, for that matter). What a great way to keep clutter out of my home and help those in need!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin