Some families celebrate birthdays in a big way and others barely acknowledge the day aside from any other. Our family has chosen to honor and celebrate each child, on each birthday, as a confirmation of their uniqueness and identity. Since no child is the same, no celebration is the same; however, each celebration must have the elements of honor and surprise. Recently, our youngest turned 13. Since we’ve chosen not to use the term “teenager,” the age 13 is not so special to our family but in the mind of our youngest daughter it represented a milestone. It was shaping up to be a pretty uneventful day since I had nothing special planned and no precious gift to give. (A month earlier we had helped her purchase an upgrade to her violin—an early birthday present—so she would have time to get used to it before her spring recital.) Since she was already aware of her gift, we were searching for some sort of surprise that would also show her honor.
With only two weeks to spare, God inspired me to honor Abigail by inviting 13 friends—ages 5 to mid 30’s-- to celebrate with her. (Abigail loves her family, but she is an encourager and has quite a collection of friends and pen pals!) I chose Dad as her first friend and sent emails to the parents of 12 of Abigail’s close friends explaining my plan. (I would’ve sent invitations, but I didn’t really consider it a party and the idea came to me kid of last minute.) I would purchase 13 pink roses. Each guest would arrive between 7 and 8 pm bringing one rose and a card or letter of blessing. Cake and ice cream would be served promptly at 8 pm. I knew that some friends had prior commitments for that evening and may not be able to participate so I asked for RSVPS’s to make sure all 12 would be present. Amazingly, every friend but one was able to make adjustments to the schedule and participate in honoring Abigail.
On Abigail’s special day, we celebrated as we celebrate each birthday--donuts in bed. Along with the donuts, Abigail found a small gift on her tray—a fancy green key to our home on a cool key chain. This has become a traditional gift for 13th birthdays. It is more symbolic than practical, but as the girls get older they sometimes have need of a key after a babysitting job. It’s our way of saying, “You are responsible.”
In the afternoon, Abigail and I went to Starbucks for a surprise meeting with Miss Kelly, a young woman who sings on the worship team with Abigail and the one of the 13 special friends who was unable to attend our evening celebration. She presented Abigail with a pink rose tied with a ribbon and bought her a Passion Fruit Tea Lemonade. The three of us chatted together for about 20 minutes and then Miss Kelly had to go back to work.
While Abigail and I were at Starbucks, two of my older daughters baked and frosted a cake, shined the bathroom, and delivered the roses to Abigail’s friends. Some of the roses were delivered to the church, a central location for others to pick them up, and some to friends in the neighborhood and surrounding area. When we arrived home, the house was completely ready for a surprise celebration.
Dad came home from work and presented Abigail with a pink rose—tied with the same ribbon. Abigail remarked how it was the same ribbon as Miss Kelly’s, but didn’t catch on. Dinner was Abigail’s choice, taco salad, and then she opened her presents from the family. Just as we were finishing, the first guest arrived, followed quickly by the next friend. By the third rose presented by the third friend, Abigail had caught on. For the next hour, friends, siblings and parents arrived, one family at a time, until at 8 pm we all sang and she blew out the candles on the traditional Moore Family Birthday Cake. (Recipe)
The celebration was a success. Our sweet daughter enjoyed our special time together as a family. She was also quite surprised and honored by her friends’ presence and their sweet words of life to her. Daughter honored and surprised. Mission accomplished.
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