We've never done much with birthdays in our family. When the children were little--really little--we had parties with games and prizes and cakes with candles. But by the time they turned ten, it was all over. I'm not sure our youngest child ever had a birthday party, now that I think about it. Maybe he did. As for gifts, they were always minimal if they existed at all. A card--maybe, but probably not. How could a card really express what I felt? If it said that the child was special, what did that say about the others? Weren't they all special? What if one card was better for one child than for another later in the year? Would they compare and feel that one was loved more than the other? No, birthdays are acknowledged with a hug and the phrase "Happy Birthday" and that's it. For those who live far apart, then a phone call will have to say it--even if it's just a message on the answering machine. It's just to say, "I'm glad you were born."
Today was my husband's birthday. We all said Happy Birthday, and hugged him. Last week one of our sons "celebrated" his birthday, and got the same good wishes. Yesterday was my eldest son's birthday, but he is no longer with us, having died of cancer in 2005. We "celebrated" his birthday with the same sentiment: We're glad he was born and we miss him.