Birthdays are a labor of love. Simple or complex the effort that goes into it comes from the heart.
As the oldest of four I had plenty of awesome birthday parties before I had to share the limelight with my siblings. My dad continued to make the effort up until I was a teen. I think at the time we lived in Germany near Kaiserslautern. My bedroom at one point was downstairs. I woke up on the morning of my teen-hood. Walked out my door through a balloon filled dining room. Sat down on the couch and watched my favorite Saturday morning cartoons.
I had totally forgotten it was my birthday! I didn’t notice the cake in the middle of the table, the streamers hanging from the ceiling, or the pink balloon tied to the door knob. By some weird twist of fate that is the birthday I remember the most.
I suppose that was an indication that I don’t get worked up about birthdays. My idea of a good birthday these days is a pedicure and a good movie. Heck I think it’s time to upgrade to massage! 😉
Oh don’t get me wrong. From time to time I have thrown myself into it for the sake of my children. It is a great way to bring everyone together and catch up… but what happens when most family and friends are miles away? The cake becomes the tradition that brings us together… When we eat cake, we imagine everyone is eating it with us!
There are 4 labors of love when it comes to cake.
- Making the cake from scratch. Extra bonus points for using an amazing recipe! For you the cake was labor intensive and therefore priceless. Your performance in the kitchen will not be soon forgotten. Expect an encore.
- Whipping up a cake box mix – There is no shame in your game! You might even make up for it by letting the kids decorate for you. The mess is real either way. Might as well make the most of it and have fun.
- A custom ordered cake. These are no doubt amazing! Usually they make us sad when it comes time to slice it. Our next duty as hostess is to make sure everyone gets a large slice because you want to make sure you give your money’s worth of happiness to each guest.
- Driving to 2+ stores to find the perfect cake. Make sure to have the bakery guy/ gal ice it with “Happy Birthday” and check to make sure it is spelled correctly. Very important. By the time you find the perfect cake you start to think you might want to give your culinary skills a second chance.
What can I say? I have probably done all four at some point. When Neko was an only child I made all the cakes from scratch. My decoration skills were not impressive. Later I switched to box cake because it was economical. 4 kids later and the baker is my friend. 😉
What I may say next may break your heart…
Eating cake at least 6 times a year (insert countless birthday invites here) has made my heart turn cold towards cakes. I have tried cupcakes and cookies. I have even tried donuts but my favorite substitute is pie. When I ask the kids if they want pie this year for their birthday, they look at me as if I had lost it. Okay cake it is.
For them the magic and wonder is still centered on this delight. So that is why I ended up in 4 places looking for the right cake. The majority of cakes were humongous. We did not need a large cake, it would be just the 6 of us. There was no need for left overs and I had no intentions of feeding the neighborhood. I am sure the kids wouldn’t mind but after the 3rd day of eating cake for breakfast and those kids will be looking forward to oatmeal.
I was grocery shopping at the same time. The first choice was an ice cream cake. In this random heat wave it was not predicted to make the trip home in one piece. I tried to get an ice cream cake for my brother one year and it was a delicious puddle. Perfect only because the Star Wars figurines looked like they were battling it out on some distant planet. Yeah. I am going to go with that.
To top of it off we were in search of the allusive vanilla cake. Nothing else would do.
I don’t know how my first born could not love chocolate as much as me. After sufficient calories were burned looking for his cake, I was about to settle for a box cake. I might be able to get away with a Funfetti cake, right? Lemon and chocolate were in abundance… the 4th store almost was the same song and dance. Talking to the baker I asked in desperation, “Do you have a vanilla or a white cake hiding somewhere?”
“What you see is what we have, would like to place an order?”
“No. I need to pick one up today and I really don’t need a big cake.”
All of sudden the light shone in her eyes and she had idea. She pointed to this small vanilla cake with butter cream icing. It was perfect! The magic came together for us in Publix. I am pretty sure it was created out of thin air. It was the last one and it was ours.
We waited until the man of the house came home. Which was 10:30pm. At which point I ignited the fire hazards, more commonly known as sparklers, on the cake. He was happy we waited so he could be a part of the celebration. To him birthdays are simply wonderful no matter how old you are.
They are a reminder of everything good in the world. 😀
What was the last birthday you remember?