Yesterday was Liam’s first birthday. For many people, turning one is a big deal. A month or two before the day, I found myself apathetic to this 365th day of Liam’s life. At first, I thought there must be something wrong with me. I thought, “Why am I not going crazy over his brithday?” I even started searching around on Etsy to see if the thought of buying him a gift would strengthen my birthday indifference. I eventually found some things that I thought he would like and sent a little note to the family, but still…nothing. No desire to throw him a birthday bash, bake him a cake, decorate the house….nothing.
Then, while reading Beyond the Rainbow Bridge by Barbara Patterson, I came across a beautiful idea that I would be also to share with Liam for years to come; a birthday ring. In a Waldorf-inspired classroom or home, a birthday ring is a symbolic way to celebrate the anniversary of your child’s birth and show reverence for each year of their life. There are many variations of how you can incorporate this into your child’s life, but traditionally the first step is to fill the ring with decorations in each of the holes. Those decorations can be choosen randomly, based on asthetic value, or they can be symbolic of your child’s journey throughout the year. Of course, I choose them to be symbolic. While thinking this over, I came up with another idea. I felt that it was important to incorporate my whole family in this endeavor. Since we live over 2,000 miles away from most of our family it was important to me that they were able to share this day with him. I asked each of them to pick out a decoration that could be either a representaion of themselves as a part of Liam’s first year OR something that reminded them of Liam. This way, even though indirectly, they were here.
The next part of the ring ceremony is the birthday story. It is the story of their life for the past year. Each year, of course, the story gets longer as they grow bigger and stronger. As you get to the end of each year’s story, you take out a decoration, replace it with a candle, and light it. While it was totally optional whether or not my family would write a little something about their piece, although I hoped they would, I knew I wanted to. So last night I sat down and wrote the story of his first year. Since we are delaying the birthday ceremony until my mom gets here, it will be read to him on his pretend birthday later this month.
When I recieved all of the pieces from my family, it felt like Christmas. I immediately put it all together and took the picture you see above. When I looked at the ring, I felt as if they were all here with us. Almost instantly, I became overwhelmed with emotions. It made me realize how thankful I am that I have such a wonderful and thoughtful family. I know when Liam gets older, he will feel the same way. That is what I want Liam to know that birthdays are about….not just toys, parties and gifts, but something meaningful celebrating that year of your life with those you love.