I started a tradition last year that I hope others will follow. I came up with the idea when my children's birthdays were approaching thinking of what present I would like to give them. My kids are not youngsters, they are adults in their mid and late twenties. I try to find birthday presents of something that they would not necessarily get for themselves but want. I hate giving gift cards, even though this would be easier to do, because it seems so impersonal to me.
Last year, I tried to think of what my children may want for their birthday but my mind kept wandering. Instead of thinking of all the material things I could buy them, all I could think of was how proud they made me. I thought of all they had accomplished, how they have grown into amazing men, and how much I love them. Do not get me wrong, they are NOT and will never be perfect, they make mistakes like everyone does, they are human. But, whether they are 2, 10, 15, 25 or 30 years old, I believe that they should know how important they are to me, how much they make me proud and know that they make a difference in my life.
I did buy them a present and continue to buy them presents because, let's face it, everyone loves getting presents. What I also gave them, however, was a letter written by me. Last year I wrote a blog post, "A Letter to My Son's on their Birthday", which discussed this idea further and what I had hoped it would accomplish.
The letter I wrote last year focused on all the things my kids did in that year that made me proud and it also contained some advice that I wished I had learned earlier in my own life. I do not know if they will ever follow my advice, but what I do know is that they will think about it. What I also wrote about was explaining to them how much they are loved by me and what a difference they have made in my life.
I wrote my second letter to them this year. I did not find it hard to write, in fact, it was easy. Each of my sons received their letter in the mail. There were new things that I was proud of, more advice that I had, and a reminder of how much I love them. Even though I tell them right before we hang up on the phone or when we say our goodbyes, this letter is concrete, a keepsake. They can look at any of the letters whenever they need to feel my encouragement, my advice, and my love. They may not know this today, but one day they will come to realize that these letters are the best gift I could ever give them for their birthday.