We’re not a huge celebration family. This may sound odd when you take into account that I do like a fancy party, but celebrations, birthdays in particular, tend to be low key on the whole and usually consist of a phone call, dinner or brunch and a few small gifts.
We don’t have a lot of birthday traditions. Other families do the same things every year; a special cake, decorations or a venue they always head to. Not us. If it’s a non-special year (you know, one not ending in a zero), we just kind of wing it.
Of course, Poss has other ideas and as an only child, she’s always been spoilt for choice when it comes to celebrating. But even she has pushed back, preferring to celebrate small this year and to be honest, if you’re counting her happiness and not mine as the measure of success (as it should be) it was probably the most successful she’s had in her ten years.
But my mum, she’s a special one. Having raised both my sister and myself to some sort of independent adulthood, she’s still an active and much loved part of our lives; helping with Poss, picking up the slack when I travel or work late, replacing my dinnerware (don’t ask) and fits it all in while she works full time.
So, when both of us girls forgot her birthday this week, the guilt was strong. Like mother guilt in reverse, it was overpowering and all consuming. I’m not even going to go into why we forgot. We just did.
After much swearing late on Wednesday night, we did the only reasonable thing: put Claire on a plane and flew her down to surprise mum and pretend like we planned the whole thing.
She arrived in the dead of night on Friday, only adding to the feeling of us undertaking a heist-like mission. We spent all day Saturday preparing; a cake was baked, a lamb slow cooked and champagne put on chill.
When mum arrived, we did the whole jumping out thing, she squealed, then smacked at us, then cried, while we thanked our lucky stars that her heart is as strong as it is. Probably should have thought that through a bit better.
We (ok, it was me) had bought matching kaftans (because
we’re I’m kind of daggy like that) and we sat around, wrapped in them while eating dip and drinking bubbles. Poss bounced happily on the trampoline, delighted to have the attention of the whole family.
There was a four layer mandarin and ginger cake, smothered in cream cheese icing, which is by far, the superior icing. And it had fruit in it, so you know, it was like eating a fruit salad.
Sunday morning we headed out for breakfast, soaking in the sun over coffee and conversation, squeezing the last few hours out before my sister had to be shuffled back to the airport.
While this may not translate into a new birthday tradition; I mean, flights at the last minute are bloody expensive, I’m really pleased we made an effort to do something special, even just this once.
How does your family celebrate? Importantly, is there cake and what sort?