A Christmas Birthday

What does your birthday mean to you?

It was the week before Christmas, and we were making construction paper Christmas cards for our parents.  Glitter, glue and crayons were scattered across the table-top. Sister Marie Rene walked over to my table, put her hands on my shoulders and announced to the class, “Joey’s birthday is on the most special day of the year, Christmas!”  “Do you get extra presents?”  My friend sitting next to me asked.  “No,” I answered.” “So why is it so special?” He countered.

It took me many Christmas birthdays to realize love was the reason my Christmas birthday was so special. My birthday, forever paired to Christmas became a time of giving, sharing, receiving, acceptance and love.

Have you wondered why children only ask for food, warmth, love, comfort and protection yet are often worshipped with favors and material gifts? As perfect beings children do not ask for bows, ribbons, cakes, candles, birthday parties or gifts. What they ask for is love.

After birth infants require love, attention and affection. By age one freedom, encouragement and respect are added as every child develops a sense of self-worth. By the mid elementary years a child learns to give, share, be non-judgmental, accept others and tell the truth. Birthdays come and go, lessons are learned and love is given and received. These lessons are the greatest birthday gift every parent can give a child.

As parents we are prone to forget the simplicity of parenting. We over-engage, indulge and worship rather than teach our children. As we fail to set and enforce boundaries and limits, behavior problems become increasingly apparent.

Many children today drown in a sea of plenty. Your child’s birthday is the perfect time each year to remind yourself and your child about the transience of material gifts and the simplicity of love. Make your child’s next birthday about the essence of Christmas. Be a model for your child. Teach your child the difference between needs and wants and live a life based on giving not receiving. When you teach your child to listen, to touch, to give and to heal you will also be teaching the meaning of love.

Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas to all!