Birthdays, yesterday and today.
August is the month of birthday and anniversary celebrations in my family. Both children married in August, and each of their spouses has birthdays in that month. Add to that the children's aunt, it ends up being a month for party and family get-togethers.
From the time the child is able to make a choice, each one has the authority to dictate the meal and the cake. Growing up and living on a farm, eating out was not in the cards. We had a herd of cows that required constant attention, so that meant our birthday dinners were always home-made. I always opted for steak and french fries and corn which we had blanched and frozen the previous year. Dad would haul out the cast iron Dutch oven and melt the collected bacon grease, heating to fry the slices of potatoes. They were indescribable. A treat that no longer is part of our menu as the can of bacon grease is no longer in use. The birthday cake for me was always angel cake. Made from the whites of a dozen eggs and finished with a drizzle of lemon glaze, what could possibly beat that.
As my two children grew up, they would revel in the ability to dictate what their special meal would be. One routinely wanted pizza and the other wanted pasta. But the fun came with making and decorating their birthday cakes. We made fire engines, school houses, and clowns. One particular clown kept losing his marshmallow nose to the birthday boy when it was barely finished.
Now that the month of August has passed, I look back to see how things have changed. Each 'child' has their own family now, so coming to grandma's house does not happen as often. It requires too much time spent from their busy lives. We have chosen to gather together, with all that can attend, sometime around the birthday of the aunt. But, everyone still wants to have a choice in the meal. One is allergic to seafood and one is allergic to shellfish. One eats gluten-free, another does not eat beef or pork. And the last is allergic to artificial sweeteners, soy, and has issues with food textures. Basically, that leaves us with chicken or turkey. The gluten-free gal misses out on homemade rolls and stuffing if the bird is baked whole. And the aunt is diabetic.
So, after a meal of some chicken dish with the fixin's, we have decided that a smorgasbord of desserts gives the whole family a choice in the meal. The gluten-free gal gets a family recipe of chocolate cake made with gluten-free flour which works well in that particular recipe. Another constant on that table is a German chocolate cake with coconut pecan frosting. The aunt gets a special strawberry chiffon pie made low cal and low sugar. On other birthdays, strawberry shortcake makes an appearance, and another wants a lemon cake with lemon icing.
This is our celebration now. It is no longer the individual party for each person. August no longer has the hype of birthdays past. I'm hoping that as the grandchildren grow up that we will get back to having their parties be of their choice and the fun will begin all over again.