For 13 years I have been invited to the birthday parties of my cousin's children. For the first few years, I always thanked them for the invitation but declined. It would have broken my heart. My cousin didn't stop inviting me the following year (as most people with children did) and I will be forever grateful for that.
I have been going to the birthday lunches for a few years now. It feels good to be included.
I made a special birthday present for my niece this year (well, technically she's not really my niece, but she feels like one). An album of 150 photos: the best moments I have had with her over the last 14 years. I wrote down all the dates and for each photo I wrote a short story.
I didn't know if she would like it. But no matter what - I decided to make it and give it to her. What she does with it is out of my hands.
She was very happy to receive the album. She proudly showed it to the other children in the family (there were lots of their photos in her album too) and they admired the photos together.
The photo on the blog: I did a treasure hunt for my niece and three other children for her 6th birthday. The present was a beautiful blue T-shirt with a hundred stars on it.