Parties     Party Guide    

Creating memories for your kids

My birthday letters mark each year of my growing children's lives

Birthday lettters for kids  







Why is it that having a child makes you realize just how fast time goes by? It tends to hit as a birthday approaches. For me, it was my son’s fifth. Five years. How did that happen? Nostalgic and melancholy became my mood.

Of course, the “big boy” bike was going to be his birthday present, but there were so many things I wanted to tell him. There were so many things I wanted him to be able to look back on and remember. That’s when a birthday tradition was created; I wrote my son a letter.

This was not an expanded Hallmark card. This was a letter written late at night, after the cake was baked, the last of the balloons was blown up, and the house was finally quiet. As tears streamed down my face, writing the letter helped me move forward while looking backwards.

In my letter, I summed up a year’s worth of a mother’s memories. Things like finding tiny rocks in his pockets. He loved little things even though those rocks often found their way into my dryer. Or there was his fascination with trucks, especially excavators. At five, he called them digger trucks.

I looked at this letter as a time capsule on a sheet of paper. It allowed me to have a relationship with my son that went beyond the day to day; it was a focus on the little things. After all, isn’t that what a mom does?

When his sister arrived when he was ten, the tradition continued. Although I missed a couple of years, as usually happens with the second child, I always made up for it the following birthday. This past year my daughter turned ten and her brother twenty. These were two very big birthdays so there were a lot of tears as I wrote their letters. In addition to a recount of a mother’s memories, there was some of a mother’s wisdom. It must be my own old age catching up with me.

For my daughter I included the story of the night she was born. It’s one of her favorite bedtime stories, so I thought it was time I got it in print before my mind grows too feeble to remember all the important details. Her letter was also about the importance of turning ten and the changes that come with that landmark birthday. She is starting to grow up and I wanted to have that fact celebrated – not with platform shoes and ‘tween fashions from her favorite boutique, but I wanted her to know that her body is a beautiful and special thing.


Dear Ally,

Tomorrow you will be 10. That’s a big number and means that from here on out, so many amazing things will be happening. Your body is already changing. It is growing out of that little girl shape into one that has curves (yes, you do come from a line of women with curves. Lots of them!). Love your body, take care of your body and remember to make healthy choices as often as you can. You are the girl I knew I was always meant to have.


For my son, it was a different year. Twenty is one year shy of being “legal”. He spent his last year as a teen living at home, going to community college and being a volunteer firefighter. As he turned twenty, he was moving away to go to school, so this was more than just a birthday letter – this was a mother sending her son into the world.


Dear Nate,

Today you turn 20. Hard to believe 20 years have passed. Life seems to flip past in frames of moments – one to the next – each building on the other. As you evolved, you grew into the man we are so proud to call our son.

You know that you are important to this earth. You are here to be part of it, not to take from it. You live your life with an awareness of others, with compassion and understanding. You have chosen to be present in this life and not just passing through as so many people are. That is your gift to the world.


Writing a birthday letter to your child is a gift to yourself as well. How often do we take the time to really think about who our kids are and what makes them so special? Save every letter you write and you will also have for yourself a history of the kind of parent you turned out to be. After all, our children are who they are not by what we feed them, but how we love them.


Jean Campbell Galli is a stay-at-home mom in Orange County.