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A Birthday Party with Meaning!

by Kytka Hilmar-Jezek, Ph.D.

We had a wonderful party for Zachary. He turned seven years old and following a good rule, we allowed only one child per year of age, so it was a small and intimate affair.

Knowing that Waldorf teachers do not make a large salary, and as we are fortunate to have Zachary’s birthday in the summer, I asked our local teacher to "work" at his party and gave her a donation of $40.00 for 2 hours to "supervise the children".

I didn’t purchase any "party favors" but instead chose to make our own with Zachary’s help. We sought out polished stones, shells and healthy naturally sweet treats (carob raisins & nuts and granola bars from the local health food store). We sewed beanbags with ribbon streamers coming off one end. We carefully wrapped the polished stones along with some glass pebbles in colorful tissue and ribbons. We also found a lovely sticker store and found delightful fairy stickers.

Instead of store bought goodie bags we went to our local craft shop and purchased simple bags made from recycled paper. We cut 2 holes into the front and weaved a ribbon through which we then tied. Also, across the front of the bag we pulled out our rubber stamps and placed a lovely border across the front, along the bottom of each bag. We also tried to remember how we "do" goodie bags at our home... well, Zachary remembered that we don’t give them to each child as they come in, instead we wait until the very end. This is so that the children have something to take home and keep, and they are not consuming too much sugary sweets in such a short time!

Guests arrived at 2:00. Miss Michele (the teacher) had several games planned for the children. They were all drawn to her sweet singing voice as she began to sing a circle song. They played several circle and movement games which kept them very active and moving for about 30 minutes. After that she rang her little hand held bell and announced that there would be a story under the tree at the far corner of our lawn.

Meanwhile, I set up the cake, candles, and matches on a small table. I placed 2 chairs by the table and our long (3 yard) rainbow silk running from the 2 chairs, like a red carpet, down a walkway. I placed flowerpots at the ends to hold it into place and I asked all of the parents to help by placing themselves and their children into a circle around the silk.

I passed out small cupcakes each with a small beeswax candle in it to all of the children. I explained to all of the children that the way we do birthdays is that we each get to have the candle on our cupcakes lit and we each get to make a wish for Zachary, so Miss Michele walked from child to child, lighting the candle and asking each child what they wished for Zachary. "I wish you to get lots of presents", "I wish for you to play with me everyday", "I wish for you to be happy" were some of the wishes. Each child delighted in that they had the opportunity to blow out a candle and make a wish (and an important lesson is that they made the wish for someone other than themselves!)

After that, Miss Michele told the wonderful story of Zachary's Rainbow Bridge As she told the story, all of the children (and parents) were in awe of Zachary. He sat tall and proud, after all, this is a celebration of the day of his birth! As she spoke of him coming over the rainbow bridge, he stood up, walked proudly to us and then sat with us.

He was so pleased, he was squeezing my hand very hard because it had such a "ceremonial" feel to it. She then went on with the story and for each year of Zachary’s life with us, she lit a candle. When all of the candles were lit, she carried the cake to Zachary who made a wish and blew out the candles. We all sang "Happy Birthday to You" and the every one went off to eat cake, cupcakes, and play.

I had written on the invitations that it was a "picnic style party" and asked everyone to bring their favorite blanket or lawn chair to sit on. It was very comfortable and calm, outside under the trees with the cool summer breeze blowing. Miss Michele took the children on a nature walk through the Bamboo jungle (we lived on an 8 acre Bamboo Nursery at the time) and the children loved it. Meanwhile, I did a quick clean up and set out a place for the opening of gifts.

Now maybe I just have a personal peeve here, but I have noticed that at each and every party we have ever been to, the gifts get piled high, the cards and tags fall off, and the child rips through from one gift to the next. I have always tried to teach that a person puts much time, care and love into choosing a gift, and that needs to be acknowledged.
So, for that reason, at our house, the gift giving is done a bit differently... Each child (and parent) holds onto their gift. When it is nearing the end of the party, we sit in a huge circle and I ask that everyone please be patient as Zachary opens the gifts.

This may sound kind of tedious for many, but the actual experience is a great "lesson" for all of us home and un schoolers. Also, as each child carries and presents his gift, Zachary gives them the goodie bag. It’s nice because each child gets to open a gift, plus they don’t lose it during the 2 hours of the party... it goes home intact! I’ve taught Zachary to thank each person by looking into their eye and either offering them a hug or a hand shake and I truly believe that giving and receiving go completely hand in hand and lend themselves to the "breathing in-breathing out" rhythm.

I am pleased to say that it went very well. Of course, we will now spend the next few days preparing lovely Thank you notes, and at our house... doing that is almost as much fun!

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Kytka Himar-Jezek, Ph.D., is a writer, Certified Childbirth Educator, Labor Assistant, Doctor of Naturopathy, Minister, Soul Counselor, Reiki Master/Teacher, Life Coach and most importantly, a mother. She is the publisher of several family & parenting websites, two books and a regular weekly column. Reprinted with permission, this originally appeared in the "Ask Kytka" column at W.I.S.H.

Learn more about Waldorf Parenting, Homeschooling and Kytka at http://www.waldorfhomeschoolers.com/more.htm .

This article provided by the Family Content Archives at: http://www.Family-Content.com