Today is Rocco’s 7th birthday and as much as I would love to give him a wide range of presents and watch his face glow with delight as he opens gift after gift, I am firmly reminded that the best gift that I can give him is my attention, care and unconditional love, along with teaching him good manners, self respect and kindness to others.
These are the gifts that will serve him well (among others), for many more birthdays to come and cost absolutely nothing but will give him a rich heart.
Even as a minimalist, I do get tempted and even sometimes sucked down that path of wanting to give my children everything – toys, gadgets, clothing…the list is endless. And naturally, (as most children are), Rocco would be very happy for me to go skipping down that path where he is the direct and immediate beneficiary.
However, even though it is his birthday, this time every year I always have to exercise some self-control for myself. It is important to me to keep us united as a family; grounded, humble and grateful for the simple things in life, such as family, health, food and community. And birthdays can often be a great opportunity to remind us of these values.
So as a family, we focus on having a family birthday dinner at home together. We cook the birthday boy’s favourite meal. We give just a few gifts, something needed (new pyjamas), something that involves an experience (a bike) and something that adds value for the whole family to enjoy (an electric throw that we can all snuggle up in whilst watching movies on the sofa). Birthday cards are written with heart felt and well thought out words, so must be read out loud before gifts are open. This is to instil gratitude and acknowledge the care and vulnerability that comes with expressing your feelings in black and white – therefore we encourage him to show his appreciation through an immediate hug and thank you.
Rocco gets a small and simple party with a few of his closest friends and family. He gets to be fussed over and can be the boss for the day. Instead of endless gifts, we shower him with endless kisses and hugs, while telling him how proud we are of the incredible human he is growing into.
So happy birthday Rocco!