Although Patriot Day in the United States was created to commemorate the tragic events that unfolded on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, the day is most commonly referred to by its date, as 9/11. Because of this, anyone who answers the question of when their birthday is with "Sept. 11" immediately faces a range of reactions, from people talking about where they were the day the Towers fell to sentiments of sympathy over having to share a birth date with one of the most tragic days in recent history.
If your child's birthday falls on Sept. 11, it's possible that they weren't even a thought back in 2001, which could make the fact that their birth date holds a certain heaviness even more difficult for them to understand and for you to explain. However, celebrating a birthday shouldn't feel forbidden or taboo, regardless of the date, which is why it's definitely OK to make your child feel special on their birthday, the way you would if it were any other day of the year.
That said, because of the sensitivity of the day, it's understandable that some parents might feel a bit uncomfortable celebrating a little one's birthday without acknowledging the significance of the day at the very least. If you fall into that camp, here are a few ways to help make it so that your child gets to celebrate their birthday without feeling like it's completely stigmatized.
Have a party a few days before or after.
Even on a year when Sept. 11 falls on a weekend, you might opt to plan a birthday bash for your little one the weekend before or after. This way, you eliminate the potential for anyone in attendance feeling conflicted or uncomfortable celebrating and your child can feel all the love of their family and friends without there being a certain air over the party.
Set up decorations in the house a week before.
Celebrate their "birthday week" with balloons and streamers around the house that you can set up a week or so before their birthday. This will allow them to celebrate the coming day fully and not feel as though their birthday is tainted and unable to be celebrated just like any other kids' (especially if they have siblings — you don't want your September baby to feel as though their birthday is approached differently).
Have a moment of silence on the morning of Sept. 11 as a family.
Having a quiet moment to remember all those who lost their lives on Sept. 11 serves as a way for you and your child to acknowledge the events of the day together. Once your child is old enough to understand what took place on that day, they might feel guilty about celebrating their birthday, so doing this every year will allow them to get comfortable with putting themselves aside for a few minutes before celebrating what should be a happy day by all other accounts.
Add an extra candle to their cake in remembrance.
It's not your child's fault that the events of Sept. 11 occurred, nor is there any way to change the date of their birth, so to make the best of it while still respecting the day, let them have that giant slice of birthday cake after dinner, but you could choose to add an extra candle in honor of those who lost their lives and their families.