Birthdays — October Memoir Challenge
When my sister-in-law and I were planning the 18th birthday party for a nephew today, we decided he probably would still want a birthday cake. In fact, we remembered birthday cakes still feeling special well into our twenties, when we could get them.
I’m not sure why birthday cakes feel special to me so much, looking through family photos. Birthday cakes in our house were very rare. I imagine that my mother didn’t want them in the house for the same reason that I don’t want them in my house — a small piece to celebrate a special occasion is fine, but what the heck do you do with the leftovers? Maybe I appreciated birthday cakes in my twenties because I didn’t get as many as I might have wanted when I was living at home.
Since my birthday is in May and my brother’s is in August, for many years, our birthday celebrations happened at Busch Stadium. The birthday boy or girl got to bring a friend. We had many great experiences and, even now, that feels like something that defined our family in a way that birthday cakes never could.
These days, birthdays get a small amount of attention. For a few years after Mother died, my birthday made me sad. No one alive was present at my birth. Plus, my May 12 birthday always fell near (occasionally on) Mother’s Day so we often had a dual family celebration. I’m very happy that for her last Mother’s Day, we took Mother to a baseball game during the last season at old Busch Stadium.
Now, most years, my brother, Dale, takes us out on my birthday and we take him and his crew out for his birthday. Sometimes, we’ll also manage some low key event like a day at the Missouri Botanical Garden or a trip to the St. Louis Art Museum.
Check out more October Memoir posts at Jane Ann McLachlan’s blog: October Memoir Challenge.
What do you do to celebrate birthdays? Are they less of a big deal now than they were when you were younger, or more?
You were the most adorable child. I love the picture with your new wallets. It’s interesting how we can experience the longing for what we missed (birthday cakes) and the appreciation for what we had (special days at the stadium), isn’t it? As a mom, I’m imagining yours probably thought a cake would be long forgotten; family time at the ballgame would be long remembered. I guess I’d be half right.
How sad, Joy, to lose your birthdays so young. But what a unique way to celebrate them!
I went WOW when I saw your certificate from the stadium. It made me think of how rare something like this used to be and how common, and even expected, it is now that parents made a big to-do over their child’s birthday. You were indeed special to your folks! We never had regular cake at my house. My grandmother made torte- flourless cake: 7cups freshly ground walnuts (we had a screw-to-the-table nut grinder), 7 cups sugar and 7 eggs, and vanilla I believe. Jam in-between the layers. She made some kind of icing though–icing sugar and butter I think? Oh with some lemon juice! My first “real” birthday cake was made for me by my best friend Cathy when I turned 16. She asked me what I wanted and i said I wanted it to be purple. And it was. My first ice cream birthday cake happened when I turned 40! Did you ever have one of those?
Every year I bake a cake of the birthday person’s choice for their birthday. We have me and Rob and then my son and his family (wife and daughter) plus my daughter and then there’s “uncle” Matt, a family friend. Truth is, my granddaughter still won’t eat a whole piece of cake herself but one cake is about right for all of us. My son and I were just talking about his cake this past weekend and we narrowed it down to a pistachio cake with a cherry infused whipped cream frosting. Layered between the cake will a pistachio pudding, one layer will also have some chopped cherries in it. On the outside we’ll add some chopped pistachios and on top we’ll plop a few extra cherries.
And because my husband is diabetic, all of this will be no sugar added. Of course cherries have sugar in them but everything will be as sugar free as can be and always delicious.
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I hadn’t thought about how birthdays are different now than when I was younger. I live away from my family and most of my friends, so birthdays are certainly quieter now. However, at my work, we get a cake on our birthday and make one for the next person. Celebrating with your loved ones is wonderful, but it’s also special to celebrate with those people you’re less close to — to remind you that you have more than just a small circle of people who care for you.