A Reason to Celebrate

John CroyleWhat money can’t buy.

by John Croyle


At Big Oak Ranch, we try to make our children’s lives as normal as possible in every way. We have the “normal” family celebrations like Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, etc.

Recently, one of our housemoms was talking with one of her “new” sons about his upcoming 11th birthday. She was sharing with him all of the plans she had made for this celebration of his birth. She asked him, “What would you like for your birthday? Is there anything you really would like?”

He looked her right in the eye and said, “Wow, the only thing I remember ever getting for my birthday is a pair of socks!” His reply shook her to the core and reaffirmed in her heart the real reason why she and her husband answered the call of the Lord to serve as houseparents here at the Ranch. I want his answer to simmer in your heart for a moment. His memory of birthday celebrations as a young child was a pair of socks.

I heard that his housemom started the birthday celebration festivities with a “You Choose” breakfast. He asked for pancakes with birthday candles! Think about that. For you, me, and our children this is not a really big earth-shattering request, but if you have never had a birthday cake, or any of the things that go with a normal birthday celebration, the candles are a major deal.

Not only did she have a full-blown birthday party that evening, but she went to school that day, ate lunch with him, and took cupcakes for his whole class to enjoy. The things she did for her son did not cost a lot of money, but they meant the world to him. Many times we are so focused on giving our children “stuff” that we forget to give them what they really need and crave—our time!

Imagine with me for a moment alternatives to thinking that the more money we spend the better and more memorable our children’s birthday experiences will be. Looking back at my own experiences, this does not prove to be true.

Imagine a different plan for your child’s birthday this year, one that doesn’t necessarily require spending money. Perhaps ask your child what he or she might like; their answers might surprise you. What might you do in place of the huge cake that is only half eaten and then taken to work or school?

Try going on a camp out in your backyard, some nearby woods, or a state park campground. Perhaps a Slip-n-Slide party in the summer months or a masquerade party around a particular theme. You and your families have greater imaginations than I do; put your minds together and see what you can come up with when money is no longer a consideration.

There is a big trend these days toward elaborate celebrations. But in the end, it’s not the money you spend but the memories you create that matter. Think on the memories you value from your own childhood and try to create those kinds of memories for your children.

Leave a Reply