If you know me, you know that June is a busy birthday month for my family. We celebrate my dad, a brother, a niece, a nephew, a son, a host of extended family and friends…and me! It’s a busy yet special time filled with intention and memories of special ones no longer with us and celebrations we’ve shared along the way.
This past month, I also had the privilege of participating in two Sacred Stories birthday tribute videos in addition to our Legacy Film projects.
All these birthdays and projects have left me feeling extra grateful. At the end of this birthday season, I’m thinking about what a gift it is to have a day every year with an opportunity to honor our loved ones with stories, memories, good questions to ask, and words of blessing for the future. Birthdays can be a time to be extra thoughtful with the people we care about, and birthdays can help us to celebrate life, honor a person’s life and think about how we hope to move forward.
Do you have a month filled with family birthdays? Do you have a special person you want to honor this summer or this year? Do you struggle to think of what to get the person who “has everything”? We’ve got some ideas for you:
Stories & Memories – Use birthdays as a time to share with your loved one.
- Write memories on slips of paper. Create a jar filled with memories of the person of honor. They can open them all at once, one a month, or once a day until the jar runs out. They can read, reread, and remember special times!
- Create a music playlist with songs from times you have shared together.
- Make a birthday book filled with notes, pictures, and letters. We’ve seen some great examples of these, and there are easy, free websites to get this done. Or simply take a small notebook (lined pages or not) from the store and have friends, family, coworkers, etc. write a memory or story on each page.
- Have a recipe with a story? Make the food for a friend & share the story and the recipe.
- Pass along a family heirloom or old family photos with a story.
- Make a new memory together. Give the gift of time!
- Hire a professional genealogist to help with names and places, or hire a personal historian to help with guided reminiscence and life review.
Good questions to ask – Let your loved one share their stories. Let the person of honor do the talking.
- Create a trivia game about the person of honor. See who knows the most answers…and maybe you will learn something new!
- Interview the person of honor in person or virtually. Ask them questions about their life. StoryCorp has some great questions. Take it one step further, and record the responses on paper or on film. For kids: Try this birthday questionnaire, or help them create their own.
Words of blessing for the future – Say more than “Happy Birthday!”
- Write a heartfelt letter to the person of honor
- Make a video tribute. Celebrate the person of honor by compiling photos and asking other family members and friends to share their favorite memories and feelings about your recipient. We can help: firstname.lastname@example.org
Birthdays are an opportunity to reflect, remember, and reconnect. Birthdays are a blessing for life – a reminder that we are one year older and that meaning in our days is present and possible. Be creative about marking these special days for yourself and those most important to you.
What’s a way you’ve honored a loved one on a birthday? What’s a cherished gift you’ve received? We’d love to hear your good ideas: email@example.com