My children are 3 years and 2 days apart. In the beginning this brought on shared parties for friends. Now that they are older they have asked for their friends parties be separate, but the family party will still be shared. This year we are having a three day birthday celebration. Friend party for Becca was Friday. Friend party for Jack was today. Family party tomorrow for both. 3 day birthday binge. 3 days of cake consumption. 3 days for sugar highs and shrieking children. Fun times, this birthday extravaganza.
Along with all this celebration is a time for my kids to remember others. For the past three years we have had the children choose a charity with which to gather donations in lieu of birthday presents from their friends. It serves multiple purposes. One, my kids learn to be generous. Two, other people’s kids get to learn how to think of others. Three, my kids don’t have to open any presents. Four, I don’t have extra toys coming into my house.
This year everyone had a blast buying gifts for pets at the local animal shelter. Tomorrow, before the family arrives, my kids will walk in the shelter carrying their bags of paper towels, dog toys, and canned food. They will have smiles on their faces, pride in their eyes, and proudly share the story of what they have done. And Paul and I will stand back and watch them, watch them think of others, watch them take care of those around them—even if they are animals.