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Birthdays! Why Do We Celebrate?

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Yesterday my eldest daughter turned 8! WOW...where has the time gone?

It was a fun day. She was able to set the menu for the entire day, (waffles for breakfast, hot dogs for lunch and chicken and French fries for dinner) which I was less than pleased with however...it was her day so we allowed it! She had a fun day at school and in the evening our family came over for dinner and cake.

As most kids, she had a great time opening presents and playing with all the new toys she received and of course....being the center of attention. Before we knew it everyone was gone and it was time for bed. She tried to stretch bedtime but I wasn't having it...I was pooped!!

Every night, I sit with her by her bedside and we talk about the day. My question to each of my girls before they go to bed is the same every night; "what was your favourite part of the day?" It's my subtle way of teaching them to reflect on each day and to learn to be grateful for the small things. My hope is that they will make it a daily practice as they grow up and be able to understand what really matters in life.

Last night, my daughter says to me, "Mommy, can you believe I'm 8 years old? Can you believe I'm a whole year older now?" I stopped and looked at her and with complete disbelief I said, " I really can't believe it, you have grown up so quickly".

We then got into a conversation that I never saw coming. A conversation that had me questioning so much and wondering why I never realized this before. It was actually and AHA moment for me and it went like this:

I started by explaining to my daughter that she isn't actually "one year older today". I asked her, "do you feel one year older today?" she laughed and said "NO". I went on to tell her that today is a celebration of the day she was born and then - like a light switch went off in my head - I said to her...today is a celebration of all the things you have accomplished all year long. Today is a commemoration of how much you've learned and how much you've grown since your last birthday (I obviously didn't just mean physically).

OMG...that's exactly what each birthday is and what it SHOULD BE! Why have I never thought of this before? Am I the only one that's never realized this? A birthday is and should be a celebration of your accomplishments, growth, change, new abilities and yes...even of your mistakes over the past year. Society has made birthday's so commercial that all we think about is big parties and gifts. My daughter is a very different person today than she was one year ago and, she has worked very hard to get here. 365 days of learning, playing, crying, feeling, growing, realizing, experiencing and...the list goes on, and all we do is blow out some candles and move on? CRAZY!!

Worst part about it is that I now have 39 years to reflect on!!!

So I say this...Instead of birthdays simply being a day to eat what we want, get spoiled and just 'feel' special, lets make them a day to recognize our accomplishments and celebrate the growth and wisdom that the past year has brought us. Let's reflect on where we were on our previous birthday and where we are now. Wouldn't that be the greatest gift of all?

Until next time...

Eleni

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