Somewhere along our journey as parents, I decided that we should place more of an emphasis on our birthday celebrations. After all, now my time is measured based on my children's ages, milestones and achievements. However, it needed to be enjoyed in a way that would tread lightly on the earth, but still be something to get excited about. I started researching some old traditions – German, Irish, Polish, Italian, French, and Scottish. (That pretty much sums up our blended heritage). In doing so, I discovered the birthday wreath (ring) – an old German celebration.
Many of these rings were wooden and in a modern twist, each year a new figurine is added, either bought or handmade. It seems like a wonderful tradition, but not exactly what I was seeking for our family celebration. After much thought and discussions (thanks Heather), I settled on a wreath, wrapped in ribbon, with floral wire curled up to hold four photos. These photos should include the person throughout the previous year and should be chosen by all other members of the family (Ronan was quite excited about the photo choosing).
As I am not skilled in the ways of wood-carving, I bought a pre-made wreath from the craft store and wrapped some ribbon. Since the potential for fire is quite high (what with all those paper photos strewn about), our candle is contained.
True to tradition, we get up early and place the photos and light the candle before the birthday person awakens. Then, the person blows out the candle, we eat breakfast and open presents.
At least, that's the way it's gone this year. We started with Ronan's birthday and it's gone through three of us, so I hope that it has stuck as a tradition. It's relatively easy to remember, gets the whole family involved, and is heavy on the memories and less on the stuff. I love it.
In addition to the birthday person's favorite dinner and birthday wreath pictures, a good cake always makes for a great birthday. So, for Joe's birthday – a mere four days after my own – we celebrated with another millet/orange marmalade cake and lots of singing. I don't think anyone said it better than Homer (Simpson, that is):