My Birthday Tradition (A Gift for my Mom)

tim chan —  January 16, 2013 — 7 Comments

It’s my 32nd birthday today. When I was young, my father taught me that I should buy my mother a gift on every one of my birthdays, because she had worked so hard to give me life. I took my dad’s suggestion so he would not cancel my allowance because I love my mom.

The birthday waffle cake my wife made me for breakfast. Yum yum!

The birthday waffle cake my wife made me for breakfast. Yum yum!

Now that I’m a father myself, I can see what a meaningful tradition my father set for me and my siblings. It taught me that birthdays (and life) were not just about celebrating me, but also about celebrating the people that have helped me along the way.

(Side note: Many people dislike celebrating their birthday because their birthday reminds them that they are getting old and that they have not accomplished all that they hoped in life. If you feel this way, then you need to read my blog post about why it’s important to celebrate your birthday and how birthdays are meant to celebrate the value that each person has apart from his or her accomplishments.)

Watching my wife carry a baby through 9 months of pregnancy and give birth to our firstborn daughter Alena, I have come to realize that being a mother is no easy task. It is difficult and takes sacrifice, dedication and much love. Then there is the work of raising a child (a.k.a. trying to keep them alive). There are the middle-of-the-night-feedings, 10-12 diaper changes a day, rocking the baby for 2 hours to get her to sleep, cleaning up baby puke, getting peed on, pooed on, drooled on, and living sleep deprived for months and months. Our daughter and future children better appreciate us, not just on their birthdays (or Mother’s Day and Father’s Day) but all year round for the rest of their lives. Children, if you are reading this, you can start showing your appreciation now by cleaning up your room and washing the dishes.

Thinking about all the work Olive and I do as parents reminds me about all the work my parents did to raise me. It reminds me to be grateful and appreciative for them. The least I can do is buy my mother a gift on my birthday to thank her.

This birthday tradition will be passed on to my children. On Allie’s birthday last month, I went with her to buy Olive a big batch of flowers.

So on my birthday today I wanted to say: Mom, thank you for all you’ve done for me. Thank you for loving me all these years. And dad, ditto. Thanks for teaching me this very important tradition. Sorry you don’t get a gift, but you forgot to teach me that. (Now come to think of it, maybe I should teach my children to buy gifts for both their parents on their birthdays…)

What birthday traditions do you have? Answer below in the comments.

PS – If you’re in the Greater Vancouver area and looking for gift baskets, check out our friend Jackie’s gift basket business: Itz-A-Wrap Gift Baskets. She’s got great taste in gifts, and more importantly, a passion for customizing the perfect gift basket to bring delight to people for whatever occasion.


  • Nice tradition.

  • love this!! my husband just celebrated his 39th bday. EVERY year on his birthday, at the exact time he was born, his mother calls. We were at a fancy restaurant this year–he takes the call no matter what is going on. It’s beyond sweet that they have this tradition.

    • What a thoughful mother your husband has!

  • Zee

    Sorry I’m spamming your blog with comments Tim and olive but I’ve just stumbled upon this blog and really love your writing. Will definitely be dropping by more often :)

    Anyway, I wanted to say that this really struck a chord with me. I used to be very annoyed at my husband’s mum who told us in our dating days that actually birthdays should also be about celebrating one’s parents and giving thanks to them. It was not until I became a parent myself that I saw how true this is. We now make it a point to celebrate our birthdays with our parents.

    • Love your comments Zee!

      It’s amazing how our perspectives change once we become parents right? In a way, having a baby helps us to grow up and appreciate the people in our lives more (especially our parents). Glad to hear how you guys are celebrating your birthdays with your parents now :)

  • Keep spreading the love

    i agree it is my birthday in a couple of days and i thought i should be posting my mum a gift on this day! She went through all the hard work! GOt to the postoffice just in time i hope. I was googling to see if anyone else does it. Next year my dad will get one for being there too.