The first quarter of our year always seems to be crammed with more birthdays than any other time.
So far we’ve celebrated:
– an excited lego & star wars crazy five-year old grand-nephew
– two of my siblings, both happy enough to just let the day pass without much fuss
– an evening of mango-madness to celebrate friend’s 35th birthday
– my BFF’s special day (although having the ‘flu did put a bit of a damper on things for her)
Still to come we have:
– Nunzio-puppy will be a year old 🙂
– a cute little grand-niece turns two
– her dad celebrates his birthday soon after
– two of our close friends each notch up another year
– a niece, a nephew and an honorary grandchild likewise
– and Ma-in-law turns 80
Birthdays are usually fun, particularly for kids. They enjoy the anticipation, the excitement, the tasty treats, and, of course, the presents. Although I have no specific memories of my childhood birthdays, I do remember an overall sense of wellbeing. I guess I simply took it for granted that the day would be special. Mum always made a yummy cake, there were gifts from my parents and (sometimes) my siblings – and the pile generally included a much anticipated book. Occasionally I’d be given lunch money to enjoy some tuckshop marvel instead of the peanut butter and syrup sandwiches that Dad usually made (!). Happy times.
It wasn’t until I moved out of home that it occurred to me just how much time and effort Mum must have put into ensuring that each of us felt special on that one day of the year. Not an easy task with six kids and a full time job to wrangle, I imagine. I wonder who made her birthdays special when we were little…?
Thinking about this, particularly with Ma-in-law about to turn 80, I’m conscious that we tend to rely on our on close family and friends to fill the niche of organiser/facilitator of birthday-happies and to add sparkle to our day. But like many mums, Ma-in-law’s not one to like a fuss – even on her birthday. She would like to feel special and perhaps even have a small gathering, so plans are afoot and troops are being rallied to ensure that her day is memorable (in a good way). She’s asked for a Napoleon Cake, which is something her mum used to make when she was a kid. I’ve managed to hunt down a recipe that sounds like it’s what she’s after: sponge cake, surrounded by raspberry jam and mock-cream, encased in baked puff pastry and then topped with very pink icing.
Luckily birthday cake experiments are nothing new around here. DaughterDearest and Boychilde have generally chosen their cake each year – until quite recently. Some cake requests have been trickier than others and the challenge has been to come up with a plausible version of what they selected. We’ve had all sorts, including adventure cakes, ponies, clowns, fish, kites, farmyards, lions, an Inca temple and a giant apple. So a Napoleon Cake doesn’t sound like too much of a challenge. Even so, a trial run is probably a good idea – perhaps even this weekend.
Whether or not there’s someone to step up and make the day as sparkly as we’d like, everyone deserves to have a good day. So this is a list of pro-tips I’ve collected from people who, for a variety of reasons, often end up taking their own birthday-planning on board:
– everyone gets older (if they’re lucky!) – so make it work for you
– decide to have fun, whether it’s with others or on your own
– prioritise yourself all day
– take the day off work (!!)
– plan a gift – something you’d really like – and then buy it for yourself
– go to a movie / the beach / have a massage – basically do something you enjoy
– avoid entertaining on the day… unless your guests offer to cater AND to clear up afterwards!
– don’t feel guilty about anything!
Even though my family does make me feel special, this has become my standard birthday to-do list. It’s actually jolly good fun – and, yes, I do all the things!