The Birthday Box

A Celebration of Female Friendship!

You probably have some sweet friends you can lean on – maybe the one who drives you to your MRI appointment because you have to take so much Valium you’re not allowed to drive yourself? Or how about the one who sends you a beautiful handkerchief when your beloved dog goes across the rainbow bridge? I, too, have a group of girlfriends that mean the world to me. Let’s celebrate the joys of female friendship! Read on, and I’ll also share with you a tradition my friends and I have to mark our birthdays every year.

We met when our kids were all at a sweet school in our small southern town: St. Mary’s Catholic School. I think I met the first of these friends in 1996! But I can’t say precisely when I met most of these ladies individually – it just seems like we’ve always been friends.

It’s good to know people who don’t always think exactly like you!

There are six of us, and on the surface we are a pretty homogeneous bunch, and all within a decade of each other – but we are enough different to make it “interesting” sometimes. All are college educated, but with no two majors alike, some of us were in sororities, some of us not. In regards to religion, we span from non-religious to Protestant (more than one kind) to Catholic. And in politics, we swing way left to way right. Our work experience varies just as much, from nursing, to education, to business, to interior design. That’s one thing this group of ladies has taught me recently: it’s good to know people who don’t always think exactly like you do!

We’ve seen each other through good and bad.

After all these years as friends, we have been with each other for many fun times – we’ve held graduation parties, hosted wedding and baby showers, and attended weddings. We’ve taken trips together and laughed until our faces hurt. And of course as life and age march on, we’ve seen each other through some rough patches too. Our group has seen our parents age and all the heartache that entails. Some of us have lost parents too. We’ve gone to funerals and visitations. And most sad of all, just recently one of us lost her husband. But I know it was some comfort that we were all there for her. Truly, through all life’s ups and downs, a sustaining fact is that none of us has to cry or laugh alone. There’s always hug to be found, and a shoulder on which to cry. It absolutely makes a difference.

Our tradition: The Birthday Box

The six of us share a tradition we call “The Birthday Box.” Or sometimes “The Birthday Cargo” or “The Birthday Suitcase!” (it actually does travel from friend to friend in a rolling suitcase!)

Ten years ago, we started by simply sharing a birthday card. I started it, signed it, and sent it to the next birthday girl. She then did the same, until the card passed through all of our hands. It very quickly progressed to adding small things we could all share and enjoy – then it had became a true “box” so that everything could fit. Someone modge podged the box one year. Someone added keychains and luggage tags another. One time I added a special wine glass with birthday candles painted on it, so that when each of us had the Birthday Box, we could drink wine (or iced tea as the case may be) from the special glass and think of the other ladies, knowing they had also enjoyed a birthday drink. I can’t tell a lie: that idea worked out only until I broke the glass!

Soon one of us added a journal and we’ve been writing our thoughts, and a look back at the year since we last had the Birthday Box. Someone made pillows and included patches appropriate to each woman to add to the pillow, with different patches every few years. I once sponsored a cougar at a wildlife sanctuary in our honor (I’m sure you can imagine the cougar jokes we told each other over that one!) We’ve had special luggage tags, Christmas ornaments, monogrammed blankets, personalized Tervis tumblers, personalized mugs, various cactus gifts including a crocheted saguaro, small paintings… the list is amazing! Sometimes we only include one thing we all share, and sometimes we include six of the same thing and we all get one!

Here are two recent additions: First, a sweet sloth to hang on a pot to remind us to sloooowww down! A good reminder. Isn’t she cute?

And second, a few years ago, a beautiful African violet! We all got a cutting from the same plant (lots of symbolism there!) in a self watering pot – which I just love! Mine is blooming its little heart out. Makes me happy just to look at it!

The Birthday Box has grown to the point it requires delivery instead of mailing – but that’s ok because this way we at least get to visit with the birthday girl right before and right after our own. And sometimes with life being so busy, it’s good to have this excuse to at least see some of the girls! One of us opens her home to us every year for a lovely lunch – sometimes it takes a couple months to find a common day that works for us all, but it’s always worth it and so fun for all six of us to be together!

Mini quilts for all!

And this brings me to why, as a quilter, I’m blogging about The Birthday Box! The last three years I’ve made 6″ x 6″ mini-quilts for each of us. The first year I made everyone a Friendship Star (seemed the obvious choice!) I made those all alike. That year I also added a little metal quilt hanger.

The following year I made scrappy Churn Dash blocks – no two were the same that time.

And this year I made Maple Leaf blocks – but used colors so they looked more flowerlike than maple-leaflike. I’ll keep up with this idea until I get bored of it haha, and move on to something else. But for right now, I’m loving making these mini quilts – right up my alley and something I totally enjoy!

I hope you have a group of female friends. It’s a different relationship than being friends with men, or even with your husband. I would say female friendship is a sort of a unique kinship – just because of an accident of biology, we share certain life experiences with other women, that men don’t and can’t share. I certainly don’t mean a romantic relationship isn’t significant too, I just mean platonic female friendship shouldn’t be downgraded as somehow less important than a romantic partnership. “Gal Pals” are remarkable indeed!

Maybe you have a group of girlfriends with whom you’d like to start a Birthday Box? It’s been great fun and I look forward to getting the Box every year on my birthday. I highly recommend it 🙂 Use some of our ideas or come up with your own – you’ll really be glad you started a Birthday Box of your own.

Thanks for reading! Keep making! The world needs more smiles!


One thought on “The Birthday Box

  1. LOL – what no picture of the birthday cargo?

    As an original member of the traveling birthday box gang I am grateful you came up with this festive idea!!


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: