What with kids, dogs, activities and more et ceteras than we ever thought possible, at times my husband and I look at each other wondering: who on earth are you?
Far from being alone in all of this, we’re all guilty. Well, perhaps not all of us.
Anyway, this is why celebrating birthdays is so important. For at least one day of the year, each of us is special and we get our moment of glory in the spotlight as we glow in golden candlelight and actually blow out our own candles. That is, if the kids don’t beat us to it!
Last week, it was Geoff’s birthday and it is a sad reflection of my priorities that it’s almost taken me a week to wish him Happy Birthday on my blog. My justification is that I was too busy cooking up a birthday feast on the day and considering it was 40 degrees Celsius that was no mean feat. The chocolate for the cake had already melted before it hit the microwave and me along with it.
Since then, I’ve been responding to my Versatile Blogger Award…shameful priorities, I know!
You would think that by the time you’re our age that birthdays wouldn’t matter anymore but for some reason birthdays always seem to be special. While I was having chemo, the very elderly man next to me remarked that it was his birthday and said: “I sure know how to pick ’em”. He was quite upset about being there for his birthday and I guess we all have that idea that birthdays are somehow sacred..no matter how old and supposedly “mature” we are. That we are somehow entitled to a Happy Birthday. That our birthday has to be special and we must be spoiled rotten. Moreover, if our birthday doesn’t go to plan, we somehow feel entitled to a refund or a repeat: “Play it again, Sam”.
In my usual style, I did what I always do for family birthdays. I cooked up a feast. The day before the birthday, had been relatively cool and that’s when I decided to make my variation of Jamie Oliver’s Lasagna. I’ve changed so much about the recipe that it really is my own dish now yet I still like to call it our: Jamie Oliver Lasagna. This is quite a luxurious lasagna dish with a layer of diced pumpkin roasted in “bruised” coriander seeds which I guess is what really gives it Jamie Oliver’s stamp. The point of cooking this fancy lasagne, of course, is to say I love you without words and through actions in a way that reheating a non-name frozen lasagna simply can’t achieve.
Likewise when it came to the home-made chocolate cake we had for dessert, our daughter sprinkled popping candy over the top and the chocolate icing cascaded over the side a little too enthusiastically creating a gushing waterfall or what my son unceremoniously called: “a mess”! Although I would have preferred restaurant perfection, our creation was oozing with love and was absolutely scrumdiddillyumptuous!
There was also a home-made birthday card.
Plus handwriting money can’t buy…
And move over Garfield, there were also two greedy dogs trying to ambush Geoff’s lasagna. For some reason, Lady considers the dining table an extension of her domain!
However, by going out to a restaurant or cooking something really basic, we do actually get more of a chance to talk and catch up instead of me exhausting myself over a very hot stove on a real scorcher of a day and then needing to clean it all up.
But when you show your love through cooking and infuse it into your food, there’s no other way to say Happy birthday…especially when you’re on a budget.
Sometimes all this family stuff can seem a bit sickly sweet and too “Brady Bunch” or “Happy Days”. However, for most families, these birthdays are just a temporary ceasefire on the home front. Time to lick your wounds. Take a deep breath and recuperate. Get fresh ammo. If you’re particularly blessed, you might even get to enjoy some leftover cake in relative peace and quiet the next day although don’t go getting your hopes up. This is real life… not some fantasy novel.
Somehow, birthdays often seem to bring out the worst in people too and it’s more than likely that your perfect birthday is going to descend into the war to end all wars. That instead of eating your cake, you end up feeding it to the dog…or perhaps the dog already beat you to it. You always need to be on the look out for little patch jobs on cakes.
That’s right. No one’s going to tell you that your cake has dog germs…especially not on your birthday!
PS: In case you are wondering why Marge Simpson in a bikini was on Geoff’s birthday cake, it was left over from my 40th birthday cake. My best friend and I almost share birthdays and we had a Marge each on our cake.