For many years when my children were small one of their favorite birthday rituals was the bouquet of balloons I would bring them, one balloon for each year of their life. We would make a family circle around the birthday child and they would let go of the balloons one by one, making a wish and letting it fly up into the sky. Sometimes they would let go them all at once with a giant wish, standing with their heads cranked back until the balloons were completely out of sight.
I made up this birthday game because I believe our wishes are where our magical abilities are tapped and I wanted them to see them as real things going into the universe. You never know as a mother what will stick when you raise your kids, what parts of what you had said over and over will be meaningful to them. I spent a lot of time translating this trust in magic to them with special tooth fairy messages filled with star dust, to coal tracks and a bite out of a cookie from Santa, to leaving the door open for Elijah the Passover spirit, to the balloon ritual. As they got older, all of these magical rituals were put to bed and all that was left was my own fervent belief in the magic of creating the life you dream about.
This week was my 52nd birthday. Both my daughters and their boyfriends surprised me with a bouquet of flowers, but my youngest daughter, Emma, also brought me a balloon, explaining to her new boyfriend Sam about the balloon ritual. She handed the single white balloon to me with a grin: “Make a wish,” she said, and I did, tears in my eyes. The biggest wish of the day was for all the many lessons of love and magic to take hold in the universe as far as I could see. Emma and Sam stood next to me watching the white balloon become a speck in the giant clear blue sky.
Making wishes is no different than creating a weekly or monthly to do list. Knowing what we want to make happen, committing to it in words, deeds or more powerfully, meditations, moves the universe. Don’t feel like you have to wait for your birthday to make a wish.