May 12, 2005

Birthday Traditions

When my kids have a birthday, I always make a big deal out of getting the last six-year-old kiss or last seven-year-old kiss or last ten-year-old kiss. Since I am the parent who puts the kids to bed, I've almost always managed to be the person to get that last kiss the night before the birthday. The night before my last birthday, when I was putting him to bed, With-a-Why asked for my last 43-year-old kiss.

One of our other birthday traditions is a candle ceremony. That's what we call it. Everyone in the house grabs a candle and gathers around the table. In our house we have candles everywhere - on shelves, window sills, the mantle - so it isn't hard to find a candle. We light the candles and turn out the lights. Then we go around the circle and each person says something nice about the person we are celebrating.

Since I've got a house full of adolescents (extras are sometimes included in the ceremony), the ceremony is far less solemn than you might think. All kinds of joking around is mixed in with the compliments. Yet despite the informality, there is still a seriousness and intimacy about sitting in the dark, with faces lit only by candlelight. The sibling will blush and look pleased when his sister says how much she loves him.

This week we had a candle ceremony for Boy in Black. What made the ceremony special is that Daughter was home for it. The boys have been so excited about having her back home. Sunday afternoon, I went into her tiny bedroom - where she was unpacking boxes of books and clothes - and noticed that all three of her brothers were huddled on the bed, watching her unpack, talking and laughing, an adoring audience to anything she said.

Boy in Black had been teasing me the last week or two about how I wasn't going to get his last sixteen-year-old kiss. All kinds of girls were lined up wanting it. And he was right. I didn't get it. Five minutes before midnight, the night before his birthday, he gave his last sixteen-year-old kiss to his sister.

12 comments:

KathyR said...

Aw! This is so warm and sweet!

purple_kangaroo said...

I really enjoyed reading this. My kids are 4 and almost 3, so we don't have a lot of traditions yet. So far the only for-sure thing is that the kids think any celebration must include cake.

We were also given a red "You are Special Today" plate as a wedding gift, and have started using it for special occasions.

I'm looking forward to seeing what other traditions develop as they get older.

Laura said...

I love the candle ceremony. We should really do that. I think Mr. Geeky and I do a pretty good job of saying nice things to the kids all the time, but the kids could use some practice doing that.

Dr. H said...

This is the first time I've seriously cried when reading one of your posts. Many of them have moved me, but I love this one.

The candle ceremony sounds awesome. I have done similar things with close friends on trips, so this evoked some special memories. I love the idea of incorporating it into a family tradition. The last year's kiss is sweet, too.

Psycho Kitty said...

Is it very strange that I adore your family, this family I've never actually met?

liz said...

Once again one of your posts has melted me into a puddle of goop.

As my son likes to say, "I love this idea! I love it!"

Yankee T said...

This is lovely. It sounds like you enjoy your kids so much. I always thought that as they got older the kids would need these traiditions less and less, but I find the opposite is true. Thank you for making your sweet family so real.

Lauren said...

Way better than a paintball party. See, I really do read your blog sometimes.

Phantom Scribbler said...

The sibling adoration stories are making me verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves.

(So mean of me to use references that jo(e) won't catch, but, you know... I'm verklempt. What can I do?)

I hope my kids feel this way about each other as they get older.

What Now? said...

What a lovely post! You all clearly have such an intentional and warm family life--wonderful!

PPB said...

aw, man.....why'd you have to go and write such a sweet post like that?

evieballerina said...

I hope my children are that close when they are teenagers.