A Birthday Tradition

What traditions are important to your family? Some of them take money, but if you stop to think about it, I bet the most meaningful ones are essentially free.

When I was growing up, we had a family tradition of having breakfast in bed on our birthdays. Mom would arrange a tray with our favorite pastry (chocolate éclair) adorned with a candle, plus our birthday card and a gift. The family would line up, bed hair, P.J.’s, and all, to sing “Happy Birthday”.


This tradition did not stop when we left the nest. I went to college an hour from home. My sophomore year, I was asleep in my loft bed and someone kept pounding on the door. Since I was the R.A., I thought it was a freshman who had locked herself out of her room again. So completely annoyed, I climbed down and opened the door to my mother, standing there with a candlelit tray alongside my friend, Holly, who was wearing a devilish grin. My dear mom, who by the way, is totally NOT a morning person, woke up before dawn to surprise me.

That episode not only stayed with me, but it stayed with my friend, who was the persistent knocker that morning. To be honest, the first several years of motherhood, the practical side of me decided to forgo birthday breakfasts in bed. Then Holly told me that she had started doing them with her kids and I thought, ‘then I should be doing them with mine’. That’s when we began.

Because they value their sleep, I don’t think our older kids really care about breakfast in bed anymore, although they LOVE the donuts. But our little ones look forward to their turn as much as any part of their celebrations. It starts their days on a really great note and makes them feel special, even if they end up bringing their trays to the kitchen to eat with everyone else.


So, if you have fairly simple traditions that are special to your family, I encourage you to continue them. They create memories and are what give families their unique cultures.