A couple of years ago we accidentally started one of the most wonderful birthday traditions in our family. About a month before a child's birthday, we begin talking about how all the (insert current age)-year-old hugs and kisses will soon be expiring and we need to get all we can before the new ones come.
And so it begins. Sometimes it's in the morning, sometimes just before bed, but there are little reminders for the soon to be aging child to share those hugs and kisses before they all expire.
For the last month, Annie has been rationing out the hugs and kisses. "Mommy gets as many four-year-old hugs and kisses as she wants," she says with a grin. "Daddy can have one when he comes home from work and one at bedtime," she declares. Then the older and younger siblings make a game of chase, trying to snag as many as they can manage, especially the last week before the birthday.
So this morning, as I finished the birthday breakfast, my pajama-clad newly-turned-five-year-old came bounding into the kitchen and wrapped me in an enormous hug. "That is THE most AMAZING five-year-old hug ever!" I exclaimed. The smile stretched a bit closer to her ears, "Lean down, Mommy," she said and covered my cheeks and mouth with kisses and giggles. In the background her older sister declared that she, "got the FIRST five-year-old hug, because I snuck down to the bottom bunk while it was still dark and cuddled up with Annie. I know it was after midnight, so I got the first five-year-old hug." "And I got the first kiss!" chimes in big brother, "Because as soon as Mackenzie got of the bed, I leaned over and kissed Annie!" The birthday girl smiles big again.
It's such an easy affirmation and it really did begin almost accidentally. It invites everyone to delight in the gift that is each individual in our family. And now that it has taken hold, I don't think we'll let it go anytime soon.