Ahh, the 'sibling gift' at birthdays. My sister was the first person I knew to do this and I didn't 'get it'. My childless self was opinionated and wondered why the other kid couldn't deal with not being the center of attention for one day.
I didn't 'get it' at all.
When I was preparing to welcome a second child into the family, I was looking at things in a totally different light. Birth and a new child isn't just about the parents and the new baby. That sibling is just as much a part of the changes, just as affected, as the parents! Their entire world changes.
This was reflected in my decision not to exclude my oldest from the birth of her sister. It was just as monumental a moment in her life as in mine. It was just completely different. For one, she didn't really get a say in it. Yes, she was happy about it and yes, I asked her if she'd like a little brother or sister and she did, but in the end, we never planned to be a one-child family. We wanted a big family.
One of the suggestions to avoid sibling rivalry is to make certain that the older sibling is greeted first and congratulated as visitors come to see the baby. After all--they just became a big brother or sister! That's a big deal. Another suggestion was to offer the older child a gift from the baby. We did both of these and it was a hit. Lilly was very excited and accepting of her little sister. She was so happy to have her and amazed at the tiny little critter that had come out of me.
Her place in the family changed. Her responsibilities increased. Expectations of her increased. She wasn't any older. She wasn't any bigger or suddenly more able to do things than she was before, but she still had to start doing more, simply because she wasn't the only kid in the house anymore and largely because she wasn't the youngest. She didn't mind. She took it all very well and adored her sister and I believe celebrating her role as the big sister was a big part of it.
So, at Naomi's first birthday party, there was a gift for Lilly. Not to keep her from being jealous of the attention for her sister--she didn't need that, actually. She was super excited to celebrate her sister (more than the confused little one year old who just wanted to nap, lol). It was there to celebrate Lilly, on the anniversary of the day that changed her life forever.
Why does the little sister get a gift on the big sister's birthday? To keep her out of big sister's presents, lol. Sure, her life didn't change any on that day, but the little one is still a little sister because of it. It's an important role in the family, too.
So remember to celebrate the siblings! It's not just the firstborn, either. If you have four, then three children have had their lives changed forever! And the fourth is just as important as the first. Every little life deserves celebrating and every sibling deserves a congratulations. Maybe it's on being a great big brother or an awesome little sister, maybe it's on just not strangling their little sister or simply surviving little brother's forays into the tumultuous threes. Siblings do a lot more than they often get credit (or blame) for. So let them have their gift, too.