1. My mother’s carrot cake
With the exception of when I was younger, when I still thought chocolate cake was the only kind of cake worth eating (oh, how naïve we are when we’re young), my mother has made a carrot cake for my birthday almost every year of my life. Slathered in cream cheese icing. Loaded with pecans and shaved bits of carrot, which might make it sound disgusting to some people, but it’s absolutely delicious. With enough butter to clog the healthiest arteries. You think you’ve had carrot cake at Luby’s? Huh-uh. I’ve never tasted anything from the finest of bakeries that compared.
My first birthday party was at KiddyLand amusement park and my whole first grade class was invited. I had decided to be brave and ride the roller coaster for the first time with the cutest little curly, dark-haired boy in the class, but alas, he was whisked away by the skinny, buck-toothed girl in the class, so I didn’t ride at all. But I got to ride in the front car on the train and ring the bell so it all evened out by the end of the party.
Isn’t it funny that for all the time and energy I’ve spent in my life – especially in those first few years (okay, first 40) – figuring out what presents I wanted for my birthday, that I hardly remember a single one of them? That, of course, could have less to do with the significance of the present, or how much I loved it at the time, as it does with the fact that I am now 52 and barely remember what I did yesterday.
What I do remember about my birthday is the people I’ve celebrated the day of my birth with….
My thirteenth birthday where John and Amy and Ross “surprised” me and we went to see Young Frankenstein at the movies, and ate pizza at Pizza Planet.
My eleventh birthday when my grandmother came over and we went to Furr’s cafeteria in Parker Square for dinner.
The year the singles class at Southern Hills threw me a surprise party at the Merkels’ house.
My freshman year of college, my first birthday away from home, when my friend Janet woke me up in my dorm room at 6 a.m. carrying a chocolate Hostess cupcake with a lighted candle and singing “Happy Birthday.” I didn’t care that my roommate was annoyed.
The surprise party my parents threw for my thirtieth birthday.
Receiving a phone call – and usually a card and present – from my best friend from college, every year, without fail, for the last 32 years.
A table full of dear friends two years ago at Abuelo’s celebrating half a century. Even if they did make me wear a ridiculous striped sombrero.
Tonight. Dinner and a concert with the dearest of friends.
Waking up on this day every year when I was little (and long after), knowing it was a special day, just for me. Every kid should be so blessed.
5. The fact that my dad didn’t call me at 4:05 a.m. like he threatens to do every year. But I sure am glad he remembers the time I entered the world.
Sure glad I entered my parents’ world. Thanks for making my birthdays so special.