"What were you thinking, having two kids at the same time right before Christmas!" an acquaintance laughingly said to me as I zipped around last week from work to school to present shopping to birthday cake ordering to party supply shopping and so on.
"I was thinking, what a magical month for a birthday," I said with a smile, although inside I still feel a small sting when asked this. I know that's me, though, largely because my husband and I tried for so many years to have a baby, to the point that when it finally came true, our biggest hope, and we had our first daughter, we were just thrilled to have her, without thought for timing. Same story for daughter number 2, who came three years, less three days, later.
But it is a magical month for a birthday -- or it can be. Birthdays are special and should include magic; they are the day that you entered this world and I believe in calling that a big blessing. My children enriched my life in major ways and I love celebrating big Their Day. Most other days are special and shared in a together way, but birthdays are the All About You, You Are Special day, and should be treated that way.
Regardless of what you do or don't celebrate this time of year, December can be a crazy busy month, and it's easy to let things slide or make less of them than you might other times of the year. It's also easy to combine holidays and birthdays for one "mega" event. But I grew up with a sister who has a December birthday (in fact, she and my oldest share a birthday!) and that gave me a lifetime of watching what does and doesn't work for December birthdays for young children.
All of the above are good solutions, reasonable things to do, things to try, and maybe they work for some or work some of the time. But that's the thing: I think it needs to be the exception rather than the rule. I know how complicated it can be, trying to manage birthdays in the midst of holidays and end of year activities. I have two! Plus more in my broader family!
But as I've aged, and time and life have stolen people and moments from me, I've come to cherish and treasure birthdays more and more. I love celebrating the moment we came to be a part of this world -- what a wonderful way to let someone know you treasure them, just as they are, just for being. So I like to do it big.
Big doesn't have to cost a lot. Big really just means time and attention, dedicated and focused time and attention. On birthdays in my house, the birthday child gets a Have It Your Way day, like a magic wand (which we have used, literally!). Birthday child gets to choose meals, go first, have the "say," and have magical moments. I've left notes and cards for the birthday child to find that say one wonderful thing I love about them in each note. I've left a little gift on the mat by her chair for her to discover at breakfast. I've taken her out solo for special time, and let her choose a gift in her budget. I've thrown elaborate parties - such as this year's back-to-back/side-by-side parties at Bath Junkie and Painted Potter - but those aren't always in budget. Little things are, though, and I think the note hunt through the house with compliments means the most.
So in the end, the best way to balance birthdays and holidays are to stop, step back, take a break and make one day all about the special birthday child.
More small tips:
Note: The t-shirt is from Gymboree and the autograph pillowcase is from Lillian Vernon. However, they did not provide these products for review or gratis. These are products I found on my own and purchased for my children. The kids loved them, and they added a nice birthday experience. The friends and other moms were also impressed.
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