Birthdays are a big deal, aren't they? this weekend we're celebrating my 2-8 and we can't even believe this is our 9th time celebrating my birthday together! here's to looking back at just a couple of my favorite bday memories with Nathaniel J.
Nate and I met over sandwich-making just before my nineteenth birthday. I was only 18 when we met (yay for us math geniuses haha)! One of my fondest memories of our first year as friends and dating was my surprising him for his 21st birthday. What a fun day, and what a surprise. We love surprises. At 18 and 20, I don't think we had even the slightest inkling of what was to come and how many birthdays we'd have together, no idea. Fast forward a few years and we found ourselves celebrating birthdays as husband and wife. We, from the start, wanted to start birthday traditions that would last for the duration of our lives and that we would share with our children. However, for us, tradition creating has been a slow and tough practice. Even still, there are a few things we always try to incorporate into our birthdays.
First, the birthday bird. Who knows exactly how we'll spin it when we do have children, but for now we're having so much fun with it. Dr. Seuss wrote a book called "Happy Birthday to You", and it's darling. Not because it commercializes one more thing or because it teaches us to be self-centered and entitled. It's darling because it dares to celebrate someone so largely and so intimately. We loved the idea of having a birthday bird visit on birthday eve to decorate the doorway, to set up the birthday place setting, and to leave a loving note. And again, not to have another imaginary, magical fairy come in secretly and creep in on our lives and reward us for being good. The birthday bird comes no matter what because we are loved and we are valued and we are indeed wanted and important. So maybe when we have kids it'll just be Momma + Poppa doing the birthday bird thing sans the bird, who knows. For now it's fun and light, yet meaningful and intimate. Thanks for hoping on the birthday bird train with me, Nathaniel J. I love birthdays with you.
For our birthdays, a few other things are always important for us. Yes, the silly decorations, even handmade, and hats and the birthday mug and the birthday plate. It's the hand written notes and cheesy bday cards. It's homemade gifts, like a place to hang my scarves, or sweet antique finds, like a 4-picture locket. Those are the touches that remind me that I am loved extravagantly.
It's also the cake and the ice cream, and the people who make it for us + eat it with us. Growing up, my mom had an iconic birthday cake recipe. Seriously, the bom dot com. A yummy chocolate cake ("wAcKy cake" to be exact) with shiny chocolate glazey-frosting (called pudding frosting). Divine, my friends. Seriously, so good. My dad actually grew tired of it after the many birthdays of my mom pulling out the recipe, although she probably has it memorized. So mom's substitute for his birthday was usually banana cake (also scrumptious). However, we kids knew, and still know, that when a birthday comes up or it was time for a party or sleep over, that cake would be on the table, aglow with candles.
And so, Nate + I eat this crazy cake every year. I usually use birthdays as a time to experiment with other fancy recipes too, like blueberry zucchini with cream cheese frosting or lemon cake with raspberry buttercream or hummingbird cake. Some have been good, but none really compare to the chocolatey nostalgia. Looking back, it's probably because my mom often made it a point to celebrate our birthdays with as much oomph as she could. She'd clean the house top to bottom and she'd bust out streamers and string them from room to room. She'd order colorful balloons and pretty fresh flowers and have them waiting for us when we got off the bus from school. She would let us have as many friends as we wanted over for a smashing birthday party and sleep over. And she would make the cake. And we would have it, and eat it too. That's probably why we now, still, have the cake every year. Thanks, mom, for this tradition. I love looking back with such fondness and looking forward (to the next bday) with chocolate cravings. Seriously, birthdays just wouldn't be the same without it.
And it's the people who eat that cake and ice cream with us. Nate and I both were fortunate to have our birthdays celebrated each year as kids with our extended families. Never anything elaborate or abounding with gifts, but simple and beautiful still. Nathaniel's side of the family's tradition is to celebrate birthdays at a Sunday dinner after church, with a sweet treat, and with even sweeter family around us. How special it is to keep that tradition going! Thank you, my favorite in-laws, for starting a tradition and for keeping a tradition. Thank you for passing it down to us and to our children some day too. Birthdays with you all are so special and sweet.
The birthday bird and decorations, cake and ice cream with a side of nostalgia, and the sweet folks who make it worthy of celebration. Birthdays.
Above you'll see photos from last year's bday trip to a trampoline gym and coffee shop (the selfie of Nate and I), an ice cream cake we splurged on one year, 2 photos from my favorite bday memory with Nate - a bed-n-breakfast getaway to western Michigan (we often try to sneak a getaway in for our birthdays too, even if just a day trip), the 4-photo locket Nate found for me on my birthday as his fiancé, the famous wAcKy cake, a rack Nate made for me one year, and the evidence of a birthday bird visit in the last photo.
We're heading out for the sneak-away birthday getaway this weekend! Maybe we'll come upon a new bday tradition. : )
Do you have any birthday traditions?! We would LOVE to hear them as we're still adding to our bday routine and figuring out traditions. Happy birthday to you! And may this year be a delightful one full of love!