Celebrating Birthdays From A Distance

Celebrating Birthdays From A Distance
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Celebrating Birthdays from a DistanceMy family lives in North Carolina, but I live in the Midwest. I miss them every day, but I miss my family the most during special events, especially birthdays. When we all lived in the same area, birthdays were a reason to get together and celebrate the joys of life.

I noted everyone's favorite birthday cakes: Laura loves plain yellow cake with frosting; Ellie enjoys a big cookie cake the most; mom prefers chocolate mousse. Dad--never one for sweets--always asks for meatloaf instead.

If I had a million dollars, I'd fly out for every birthday! Unfortunately, until I find buried treasure, I only get to celebrate birthdays from afar. The first few years apart I settled for sending cards with gift cards inside, and making a phone call the day of.

Gift cards are impersonal enough to give, but at a distance it takes all the fun out of celebrating a birthday. So last year I decided to do better.

I decided to establish rules for myself to make birthdays entertaining and also to inspire me. Kind of like "something borrowed, something blue," but for birthdays. 

1. A Blast From the Past

These are my rules, and I interpret this one in different ways. For my youngest sister Ellie I found a beautiful antique brooch with a peacock inlay that I wanted to give her as a gift. She collects everything peacock and, being antique, it definitely fit the criteria of "from the past." 

However, for my sister Laura I sent her an old hand crocheted quilt my great grandma made. I knew she treasured it, and felt sad when I took it to school with me....so for her birthday, I sent it back! Anything from the past makes the gift special, especially if it inspires a memory.

2. A Song I Like

I sent Laura an online playlist, knowing how much she likes music. But for my dad I sent a handmade xylophone and sheet music to tap out the notes to "Happy Birthday" on. I also sent my mom an old cassette tape of me at age 8 singing one of my favorite hymns as I prepared to sing in church for the first time.

Music is special and often speaks to our hearts a lot more urgently than normal words can. I like including a song that I remember or something I am listening to now to set the mood.

3. A Piece of Cake

Okay, so this is the part of the present I get for my family AND myself. I started by sending homemade cakes to everyone, however the shipping process yielded unpredictable results. So I made a point of finding an online site on which I could order my mom both a chocolate mousse cake and flowers for her birthday

This worked so well that now I frequently send cakes to my family. I like to get on Skype with them once they've received the cake and eat a cupcake while they eat their special dessert--we can hear each others exclamations at how good the cake is. It's silly, but it helps me feel like I am home.

4. A Handwritten Memory

Memories are the most intensely personal gifts we have as humans. I decided to start incorporating them in my gift-giving. I bought nice stationery from the store and made myself sit down and write out the memory of something that happened with a particular person. I think I like this part of a gift the best, and I'm pretty sure my family does too. Taking the time to remember and write down the memory helps me connect to something I love about my family members and truly celebrate their lives.

These have been the basic rules I've been following when it comes to birthdays. But remember, these are personalized for my family. A different set of gestures may work better for you and yours. The core idea is to show genuine appreciation for the people that matter most in your life by giving gifts that convey your shared history with them and your understanding of the things that make them happy.

Image: Wikimedia.org


About The Author

BeckyBecky Wilcox is a freelance writer who has a passion for education and technology. In her spare time she loves to experiment with new dishes in the kitchen and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

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