What's a birthday blessing, you ask? For us it means we reflect back on our children's individual areas of growth and ask God to nurture their unique skills, aptitudes and orientations.
This tradition captures a little snapshot of who our boys are each year, and it helps bring to the forefront of our consciousness the various facets of their personalities and allows us to encourage them in their individual development.
I'll give a couple of examples of blessings that we've written:
A 5th Birthday Blessing
This year has meant a new stage in your life, that of a school-ager. We bless you as you begin this journey and all of the learning and changing that comes with it.
We bless your developing mind –your inquisitiveness, your wonder, your logical reasoning and your contemplative nature.
We bless your loving heart –your empathy and your caring.
We bless your sense of humour –your love of fun, your joking and teasing.
We bless your growing confidence and engaging personality, as you experience new places, new people, new activities.
We bless your growing body, and we delight in watching you build, climb, ride and run.
A 3rd Birthday Blessing
The past year has been one of many important transitions, as you leave toddlerhood and enter your pre-school years. As we mark your 3rd birthday, we reflect on the ways you’re growing and developing, and we bless you.
We bless you as you master physical and cognitive skills, like talking, running and jumping, climbing and riding. We bless your growing independence and your strong spirit. We bless you as you learn to consider the feelings of others and the impact of your actions.
We bless your effervescence, your “no holds barred” approach to life. We bless your imagination, your ability to create new realities in your mind and inhabit those visionary worlds. We bless your love of movement and athletics. We bless your empathetic and affectionate heart and your compassionate spirit. We bless your eagerness and the optimistic outlook you bring.
I cannot take credit for this original idea. The seed was planted by a friend (thanks, Sarah!) who shared how she and her partner marked special milestones this way. A little while later, I was given an excerpt from the book The Blessing, by John Trent and Gary Smalley The book provides some general principles on preparing a blessing, as well as biblical underpinnings for the tradition.
Obviously, the meaning of the blessings that we write goes over the head of our younger boys. I think that's okay, as for us it's a spiritual exercise and also something they can re-read when they're older.
But, more importantly, the principles of a blessing can be adapted and interpreted into a format that feels the most natural and appropriate for your family.
(If you'd like to use some of the ideas from our own blessings as a model, do feel free. But please make your blessing your own creation, both because we wrote ours as a special gift for our boys and because a blessing isn't really so special unless it's tailored.)