I’ve just had a birthday and it was no big deal, which is exactly how I like my birthdays. A little shopping and a classic white cake with buttercream frosting that has ginormous icing roses on it and I’m all kinds of happy.
Oh, I know this makes me sound basic and before you judge me wait for this confession – I love, as in love, love a grocery store birthday cake. Okay, now you can pass judgement on how ridiculously unsophisticated I am.
Believe me I’ve tried to upgrade my birthday cakes. I’m talking about high end restaurant and bakery confections with Belgian chocolate ganache and a truffle layer but yet no matter how visually exquisite I always still yearn for a grocery store cake. There’s just something about that heady mix of white cake and huge swaths of American buttercream icing that speaks to me.
Back in the day I made my children’s birthday cakes because I thought there was no better way to say “I love you” than getting out a Wilton Winnie-the-Pooh cake pan and number three decorating tip. That journey to cake decorating hell lasted until my youngest turned two and her Barney dinosaur cake looked like bright purple roadkill.
It was then and there I decided to retire my piping bag and outsource my children’s birthday cakes. A decision, by the way, that I’ve never regretted. Although it was hard to admit that, alas, cake decorating was yet another thing I had zero talent for. Or as my husband ever so gently pointed out, “If it makes you cry maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.”
I find how people observe their birthdays is very illuminating. For instance, anyone over five-years-old who celebrates their “birthday month” is a red flag for me. As a parent I shut down that nonsense early. It’s a birthday not a birth month and there was no way I wanted to hear for 30 days straight a litany of requests for special favors due to birthday month status.
That said, I still know adults who observe their birthday month and spoiler alert I avoid all of them. I’ve also told my children to steer clear of any potential life mate that’s a “birthday monther.”
I used to feel a little bit guilty that I was so critical of people who required a 30-day feting. Fortunately, a friend came to my rescue when she confirmed my findings that any adult who uses a birthday month as a rallying cry for special treatment for four straight weeks is at best exhausting and at worst a narcissist. This confession came from her having to pick up the tab for a “friend” four times during the month of February because it was her “birthday month.” It’s a birthday people, not a grift.
Another birthday gripe I have is people who don’t plan anything for their birthday and then complain. Here’s a life tip for you – plan your own party and you’ll never be disappointed. No doubt there are family members and friends who excel in organizing a perfect birthday for a loved one. But if you don’t want your birthday to turn into a pity party, take charge. I have always loved my birthday because I’ve planned it.
I don’t even want to think about what would happen if I didn’t. Some well-meaning person might want to get me a fancy pants cake with a mirror glaze sprinkled with gold dust. Meanwhile, I’d be pining for a grocery store cake with buttercream roses. Seriously, I can’t even begin to process that level of disappointment and hopefully I’ll never have to.