July is our major celebration month. We celebrate Jade’s birthday, Colter’s birthday, Jim and my anniversary, and Fletcher’s Birthday in the week beginning on July 4th and ending on July 12th. (Ok, technically it’s 9 days, but with everything going on it feels like just one week!)
It’s a busy week full of celebrations. And yet it doesn’t overwhelm us. Why? Because we don’t go all crazy with our celebrations! In fact, you could call us “celebration minimalists”. But it’s not a problem, because our celebrations meet our love languages.
Are you familiar with the “love languages” concept? If not, I highly recommend you reading the book, The 5 Love Languages* by Gary Chapman. If you don’t have time to read it, I podcasted about it a while ago and you can listen to the episodes on The Busy Mom’s Survival Guide.
In case you aren’t familiar, a quick summary of the love languages concept is that everybody shows and receives messages of love in five different ways. These ways are – Acts of Service, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch and Gifts. The way we prefer to show love and the way we prefer to receive love does not have to be the same love language. And while we may enjoy several of them, most people tend to have one or two dominant love languages.
My preferred way of showing and receiving love is “Acts of Service” followed by “Quality Time”. I’ve learned how important “Words of Affirmation” are and I’ve gotten much better at that love language. I could always improve on “Physical Touch”. I don’t mind hugs and snuggle time, I’m just usually so busy running around performing Acts of Service, that it’s hard for me to stop and concentrate on physical touch just for the sake of physical touch.
My worst love language (by far) is “Gifts”. That doesn’t mean that I don’t give gifts. I do. And when I do, they are very well thought out and are usually gifts my husband or children love. And while I am always thankful for any gifts that I receive, and treasure many of them, I would also be content if I never got another gift again. Because gifts are way down on my priority scale. Way, way down.
Fortunately for me, “Gifts” is not the love language of any of my children or my husband. If it was, I’d be in trouble. Actually, I wouldn’t be in trouble, but I’d have to make a very conscious effort to give more gifts than I currently do.
Because of the love languages of our family, we are able to make our birthday celebrations very simple. It looks like this:
- The birthday morning begins with Breakfast Birthday Cake.
- The birthday child (or parent) goes around the table hugging each person.
- The birthday person has a photo taken with each person.
- The birthday person lifts up the placemat of the person they just hugged to find money under it. (Yep, cash!)
- We circle around the birthday person and sing “Happy Birthday”.
- When the song ends we rush to the center and tickle the birthday person.
- We open any physical presents (usually from the grandparents, but sometimes from the family).
That’s it! That’s all we do.
By the way, the placemats are special birthday placemats I sewed (an act of service). Everyone has their own fabric that represents their personality and they are only used on birthdays or special celebrations.
I’ve been to enough birthday parties to know that our birthday celebrations would be considered lacking by most people.
But you know what? It works for us! And it works really well. It’s simple. It’s repeatable (traditions are super important to us). And it’s something that we can manage to do despite whatever is going on in our lives.
Not everybody in the Jonas clan gets physical gifts on their birthday. We only give presents to the birthday person if it is meaningful. We don’t give them something just for the sake of opening a gift.
But birthday celebrations are different for every family. And that’s exactly how it should be. For some families, “Gifts” may be a major love language. And the giving and receiving of those gifts are super important.
The trick is to know your family and know what is meaningful and important to them as individuals.
I share our celebration with you in case you are trying to simplify your birthday celebrations or if you are questioning how complicated birthdays in our culture have become. If that’s you, I’m here to tell you that your celebrations don’t have to be complex.
They can be very simple.
As long as your celebrations are meaningful to your family, whatever you choose to do can work! Don’t feel like you have to spend tons of money celebrating birthdays.
I asked Indigo (because she was the closest child I could find) if she felt deprived because she didn’t have a birthday party with lots of friends every year. She looked at me like I was being silly and said, “Uh, no.”
When I asked what her favorite part of our birthday celebrations are she replied, “Being together as a family. I know that everyone will be there. Especially because they don’t want to miss the breakfast birthday cake.”
So there you have it – family and sugar. Apparently, that’s all the celebration this family needs.
What about you? What do your birthday celebrations look like? Are you happy with them?