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penny-wideDear Nadine,
It’s our son’s birthday. Any ideas how to make it mind, body and spirit memorable? Mom and Dad, Edina

Birthday season has arrived at the Penny residence with two spirited kids celebrating almost a week apart. We’ve been bombarded with the “who, when, where and why not?” of each birthday party. We’ve been assailed with favor recommendations, cake suggestions and gift ideas. Even grandma has received her birthday requests.

You see, birthdays are simply a big deal for any spirited kid — and why not? They mark a milestone and a turning point. They represent a goodbye to a year of growth, development and accomplishments and a hello to a new year of possibilities, opportunities and adventures waiting to happen. And that’s why ensuring our kids’ birthdays are mind, body and spirit magical is important.

So how do we do that? Here are some suggestions:

  • Sing — Begin the birthday morning with an extra loud rendition of Happy Birthday! There’s nothing like singing the birthday boy or girl downstairs to raise spirits and start the festivities for everyone. As Zora Neale Hurston says, “Love, I think, is singing!”
  • Make a Message Wall — If you are like me and have family and friends who live halfway across the world, it’s difficult to make all of them a treasured part of your kid’s birthday (even with Skype). Instead, put up a pic of aunty Elsa and cousin Martin and that best friend Frances from out of state, with a note from them (print out an email message) that comments on what they appreciate most about the birthday girl or boy, including hopes and dreams for the year ahead. Include messages from you and the rest of the family, too. Read those messages to your child and leave them pinned to the wall for the rest of the week. They’ll remind your spirited kid every day that they’re loved by all — heart, mind and soul!
  • Birthday Vision Board — It’s not every big kid that gets to make a vision board on their birthday — but they should! Vision Boards are a creative way for anyone (tween to adult) to identify (and manifest) their goals for the coming year. Just lay out a large piece of card with a picture of your birthday kid in the middle and have your son or daughter cut out words or pictures from old magazines to signify how they would like to feel and what they’d like to accomplish in the year ahead and have them glue those cut-outs onto their poster. Words might include “graduate” or “success” or “triathlon” or “happy” for example. Pictures might show people skiing or swimming or smiling as they read. Vision boarding is fun to do, can be completed in about 20 minutes, and is a great way to kick off another birthday year. Save the Vision Board until candles are blown out later in the day, and have your spirited kid share her hopes and dreams with the family (and capture the moment on video) for a truly spirited birthday.
  • Treasuring Friends — A party really is the icing on the birthday cake for any kid. But whether your kid enjoys a fishing party, baking party or a skate on the lake party, a sports at the park party, a dance in the gym party or an old-fashioned tea party, whether you throw him a treasure hunt, water fight or rent a magician, what really takes a party from marvelous to magical is the opportunity it offers to spend joyful time with friends and make meaningful memories. You see, the friendships that blossom in childhood have a way of staying in our hearts far into adulthood. And while we may not remember the details of every little adventure together, or any specific conversation, or presents given or received, we will remember that we giggled and laughed and teased and talked and played and enjoyed each other’s company and that our friends were there to celebrate our birthdays and we theirs.

So remind your spirited kid to cherish the greatest gift of his birthday — the people who attend and the love and friendship they bring. Encourage your kid to welcome his guests with a hug at the door when they arrive, and a “Thank you for coming! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!” when they leave. Make sure your child takes time to thank each friend for any presents they’ve brought. And when it’s time to make a wish and cut the cake, inspire your child to include his friends in individual birthday wishes for each of them, so that everyone feels loved, appreciated and special. And as your son sees the smiles break open on every friend’s face, he’ll know what it means to have enjoyed a truly magical birthday.

Your child’s birthday comes but once a year! So, fill it with love and laughter and meaningful moments and ensure that birthday glow keeps him warm inside for a very long time — or at least until next year!

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Nadine Penny attained her M.A. from the University of Denver in Counseling Psychology. Nadine lives in Minnetonka where she works as a medium, life issues reader and Reiki master. Contact her at nadine.penny@gmail.com and visit www.nadinepenny.com.

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