I realized this week when we celebrated Will's birthday, that I've never told ya'll about birthday balloons.
I can't believe I've never mentioned this family birthday tradition; it's one of my very favorites.
Birthday balloons are balloons filled with encouraging messages for the birthday boy or girl. I believe my dad started this tradition in my family of origin - at least he always made sure it was part of the celebration and he's famous for writing the best balloon messages. However it came about, this is an essential part of our family. We still do balloons for even the "grown-up" members of the family.
First, everyone writes a short encouraging word, phrase or sentence to the birthday recipient. For extended family who want to be involved, they email theirs. If you're in-house, you write it on a tiny piece of paper.
Your message can be as simple or as complex as you like. It can be anything from "I like your smile" to "you make me laugh every day" to "you are tender-hearted and compassionate" or any sort of thing you want to say.
Next, all the little messages are rolled up and stuck into balloons. Then you blow up the balloons.
All this is best done without the birthday boy or girl around - a little mystery is more fun for everyone.
Finally, after the cake & singing, the birthday person gets to pop the balloons and read their messages.
You wouldn't believe how special the tiny messages can be. A carefully thought-out word of encouragement can go a long way during a difficult age or stage. I have a ziploc bag filled with favorites from over the years.
I think we are sometimes quick to throw "stuff" at people when true, loving, words of encouragement are what they need the most - birthday balloons help us be intentional about loving that way.
Try some when you celebrate the next birthday at your house!