birthday giftsJust last week my daughter had her 7th birthday. This year we celebrated with a bowling party that included her class and a few additional friends. I kinda dreaded this event.

To clarify I love my daughter, she’s a  truly fantastic girl, a really good egg and my favorite person. I even adore her friends and their parents. (I’ve totally lucked out in this department and I’m well aware.) I also love a birthday… but not for the gifts, for the celebration. I make sure to make her birthday special for her, favorite meals, balloons at wake-up, a day of her own design and of course a few thoughtful gifts from family. I’m a HUGE proponent of quality and not quantity.

So here is the struggle I have with a Birthday party, the influx of new toys. I entirely appreciate the generosity of these gifts and make sure my daughter does as well. I recognize and know well the effort and expense that has been made. Please do not think for one second that my dread comes from being ungrateful. Instead my dread comes from the awareness of how much my child already has compared to so many other children. She is fortunate and I think it’s really important to make children aware that not every child will have the birthdays with gifts.

So years ago I enacted a rule : What goes in must come out. Meaning, with this influx of new toys you need to select the toys that you no longer play with and pass them along. I help her and in the weeks leading up to both Christmas and her Birthday we go through her toys, games and stuffed animals to prepeare for the new things to arrive. She decides which items she no longer really “needs”, she also helps to decide where it will go. Some are passed to a baby cousin,some donated to Preschool classrooms, hospital Children’s wings, or shelters. She never has to part with a toy that she loves and still plays with. But there are always games she has outgrown, the books that are too young and toys that are “too babyish” that would get better use somewhere else. She has learned to assess the toys, and now thoughtfully thinks how much someone will enjoy them.  There is no exact count to make sure the numbers break even, it’s the principal.

So perhaps you may think I’m a party pooper but I’m really hoping just to raise a child to be grateful for all she has and aware of the world around her. It’s been a gut wrenching week in the news, as too many are, I think we all need to work to combat some of that even on the smallest level with generosity of spirit.

-Ashley

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