It's funny how time changes us. How the years help us to rearrange our priorities and see cracks in what we once held as truth. Seasons pass, and we experience, and we learn, and hopefully we grow. And sometimes the things we once thought to be law are not the only way any more.
Sometimes it's hard to let go, but often we have no choice.
Three years ago after planning and preparing and throwing 25 birthday parties for my girls, I wrote a blog post stating my 10 ingredients for a top birthday party. Since that post we have celebrated seven more birthdays in much the same way; themes, invitations, crafts, activities, games, food, cake, presents.
Some of my fondest childhood memories are from my own childhood birthday parties and some of my best parenting moments are from parties we've thrown for our girls.
But this year something felt different. Something had changed.
I'm not sure if it was the fact that we had just spent three months away from the farm and were feeling completely overwhelmed with all that we had to do upon our return. If maybe after 32 birthday parties we felt burnt out and in need of a change. If the fact that four of our birthdays fall in a five week period would mean that planning and throwing parties would be all that I would have time for upon our return. If the thought of 10 or 20 kids running wild for three hours with their inevitable sugar highs and lows didn't feel all that appealing. If we needed a break from planning and playing the same old games...I don't know.
But once I had allowed myself to acknowledge the doubt, there was no turning back.
And then a couple of months ago in Greece, after overhearing the intricate and in-depth plans for a Harry Potter themed eighth birthday party, I made my decision for certain. This year would be birthday extravaganza free.
I have to admit there were some tears and a MASSIVE tantrum to begin with. Birthdays and friends and treats and presents have become a package deal.
And there was a huge chunk of guilt on my part too. I knew that our decision was right, but it hurt my heart to deny my loved ones what they so desperately wanted.
But what I wanted and what I looked forward to, was a complete change of plan. I wanted to reinvent our way of celebrating, even if only for this year.
I wanted to really focus on the handmade; for presents, for activities and for snacks. I wanted to keep it as small and as intimate as could be. I wanted to put an emphasis on this beautiful environment that we are lucky enough to call home and gorgeous springtime that makes our special days sunny and bright. And mostly, I wanted to look at the birthday person and plan a celebration that suited them.
On the weekend we celebrated Miss Indi's birthday, with a pancake breakfast, a hand knitted crown (raveled here), a pile of hand made cards, a tiny spoon necklace carved from apple-wood and lots of freshly cut bunches of flowers.
In the afternoon we five and her grandparents took a table into the forest and had a picnic made up of some of her favourite foods. We made gods eye's, we listened to her favourite music (which is also her grandparents' fave music), we started stringing up our forest weaving loom and farmer Bren carved the beginnings of a sycamore spoon.
It really felt like we were all gathered to celebrate our freshly turned 15 year old. It felt like we had time, that we were really ourselves and it made me happy.
And even though I have no idea how we'll celebrate next year, I have loved this year and hope that some of our new found ways of celebrating each other become family traditions. The week's lead up making cards and presents, the bush walk, the chocolate chip cookies, the picnic, the hand knitted crown, the pancakes, the birthday person as DJ, the forest craft.
The simple yet perfect celebration of someone we adore.