Creating New Traditions: Birthday Celebrations in Isolation

Creating New Traditions: Birthday Celebrations in Isolation

We’re living through a strange moment in history, and a lot of things are weird and hard. Usually, when we’re all together at Makom Community, we get to enjoy celebrating each others’ birthdays with donuts, singing, and chocolate chips and sprinkles in challah. Birthdays provide extra tasty and enjoyable moments for our community. Not being able to gather together puts many aspects of our lives on hold, but birthdays keep on coming. Here’s what we’ve been doing during our virtual gatherings to share communal birthday love from the isolation of our own homes.

First of all, we sing. A birthday would not be complete without a silly, multi-key rendition of the birthday song. “But, Gaby,” I hear you protest, “You can’t really sing as a group in a Zoom meeting! The timing and sound are all wonky.” Well, yes, but we don’t let that stop us, and in fact, it’s part of the charm. Everyone unmutes and starts to sing. We hear different people at different moments of the song; echoes of our voices continue for a lingering minute as we all finish asynchronously. Does it sound kind of awful? Sure. Is it also hilarious, wonderful, and fun? Absolutely.

After enduring our group singing, the birthday kid sends us all on a scavenger hunt they’ve prepared. The kiddo reads off 2-3 items at a time, and we all try to find them in our respective houses. All the items on the list are special or important to the birthday kid in some way. Once we all come back together, we show off our versions of the birthday kid’s special items. Then the birthday kid has an opportunity to explain what makes that item important for them. Here are some other items we’ve hunted for:

  • A violin
  • A stuffed animal
  • A lemon
  • A rag
  • A card
  • A baby picture
  • A favorite piece of clothing
  • A favorite toy
  • A guitar

One of my favorite moments was learning how many of our kiddos have guitars (or guitar-like instruments) in their homes. It’s also been wonderful to watch kiddo’s excitement as they learn about what’s important to each other, share things that are special to them, and discover what talents, toys, and treats they have in common. Even though things are weird and hard right now, I love that we’re finding new ways to connect and come together as a community. And if you need a brigade of folks to serenade you from a distance and illustrate your sidewalk with chalk for your birthday, I know just the crew.

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