A birthday tradition and a really old banner

August is birthday month in my family and I’ve been busy wrapping presents. I like to make an effort with people’s birthdays, always have. Not necessarily going all out money-wise, but with the wrapping and doing whatever you can to make that person feel special and loved. As I was digging out my birthday paper and ribbon from the cupboard I was reminded of the birthday bag we used to have when I was little.

The birthday bag had everything in it you could possibly need for a home-made birthday bonanza. Paper plates, birthday banner, balloons and pump – odd remnants from birthdays past. A bag full of celebration, joy and love.

birthday traditions

My mum used to sneak about in the night after I’d gone to bed decorating the house ready for the birthday morning. The surprise decorations (never an actual surprise but a longstanding tradition) bore the feeling of Christmas morning. When I was older and going to bed at the same time as her, or later, she’d sneak about in the morning. Every year, the banner was always up. And, when I was old enough, I’d sneak out of bed when the house was quiet and put the banner up for her.

I don’t remember ever getting a new birthday banner all those years. We probably did but to my mind it’s the same banner that’s been doing its birthday service year on year. Traditions change and merge into new ones, but we keep them going all the same.

Now I live away from my childhood home, and the banner no longer goes up. That’s okay, and it wouldn’t make sense to replicate the old tradition. But perhaps now it’s time to make my own version of this, maybe traditions are part of what makes a house a home. Often when I hear the word tradition I associate it with old and stuffy, a stubborn sticking to the past. But this doesn’t do justice to the warmth, familiarity and comfort we get from family traditions that act like a well-worn jumper and let you know you’re home.

Do you have birthday traditions in your family? Let me know in the comments below. 

About ecarr

Ellen is a writer and theatre maker who has just taken the freelance plunge after too many years of 9-5 office life. She is a yoga teacher in training and passionate about pursuing your dreams.

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