My two boys are captivated by birthdays. They plan and anticipate their own birthdays with so much eagerness and excitement that it feels like a constant conversation in our house. With so much talk about little birthdays – big birthdays are hardly talked about at all. Thankfully. Growing older comes with greying hair, plump bits and lots of saggy bits. So I am quite happy to keep my birthday in the shadows, while I entertain and indulge all the fan-fare that comes with little birthdays.
However, this year there was one big birthday that was very exciting. My sister turned thirty. Her birthday is the day after AJ’s. In the delirium of the emergency c-section that happened six years ago, I remember asking my obstetrician if AJ would be pulled out born before midnight – just so he could have his own birthday. And he was, 11.45pm.
Now, my sister certainly wasn’t waiting nor relying on me to execute her birthday. She took care of that all on her own. With a red hot passport in one hand and a Lava Flow in the other, she celebrated turning thirty on the sands of Hawaii. Now she packs her bags for a seven week adventure in Europe, with three of her most amazing friends. Her plans are not just perfect, they are pin-worthy and that is so much more than perfect.
Yet, it seemed that when she returned from Hawaii and the dust had settled she wasn’t a happy camper at all. In fact, she was a very sad panda. As we were busy, knee deep in preparations for PJ’s party she left me wondering how much more she could possibly need to validate her own birthday. Wasn’t two overseas trips enough?
Well, one afternoon, after she had just put together the design for PJ’s cake, her troubles were revealed. “I didn’t even have a cake.”
It was my light-bulb moment.
My sister wasn’t sad that we all hadn’t gathered and showered her with presents and an indulgent party. She simply wanted cake. A birthday cake and a birthday candle to make a wish upon – the absolute essence of a birthday. A privilege we allow ourselves only once a year. With only a week to go till PJ’s party, I hastily rang my cake maker and begged her to make my sister a cake. A surprise cake.
So right after my little man blew out his four candles and made his wish. My two boys and I escaped to the other room, only to emerge with my sister’s cake and her three lit candles. With a room full of family and friends we sang “happy birthday” and five weeks after her actual birthday she had the chance to make that thirtieth birthday wish.
It really is about the simple things. Not the extravagant. The importance of cake on a birthday should never be overlooked. Whether the birthday is to celebrate turning four or turning forty, there needs to be the ritual of cake. For it is the cake and the candle that it bears that make birthdays something we keep believing in, whether we like to admit so or not.
Do you have cake on your birthday?
A very special thank you to my amazing friend Belinda from Baked By Belinda, who not only made this amazing cake for my sister, but it was super delicious and she only had a week to whip this up for me!