Once-A-Year Cake-and-Cheer

I caught a radio show last week where a caller mentioned her birthday fell on December 25th. She lamented how, as a kid, she received presents for Christmas and others for her birthday, not knowing which were meant for which. Without missing a beat the radio host goes, “Hey! At least you get to share your birthday with Jesus! I have to share mine with Madonna!”

I decided to play the game myself (and you can too, at the Famous Birthdays website).  Type your special day into the box at the top of the screen and up pop all these, uh, interesting people you share something of a kinship with.  You’ll see names, ages, and occupations under big, colorful photos.  People the website deems famous.  But don’t get too excited now.  I had to scroll through seventeen before I recognized anyone.  Maybe that’s because their occupations are Rapper, YouTube Star, and TikTok Star?  For Pete’s sake, can’t they have real jobs?

Mercifully, I find “real” birthday buddies among the self-proclaimed famous.  Steve Perry – lead singer for the band Journey – shares my birthday, born eleven years before I was.  So does Sam Cooke, whose soulful voice captured hearts in the 1960s.  But one birthday buddy stands gracefully above the rest.  Diane Lane, exactly three years my younger, is one of my favorite actresses.  When Diane turned 14 in 1979, she debuted as the adorable lead in the France/Italy adventure A Little Romance.  I’ve been smitten ever since.

Ms. Lane

Birthdays represent a variety of celebrations as we pass through life, don’t they?  As babies, our parents celebrate for us since we have no clue what the fuss is all about.  As young children, the celebrations become the most colorful: parties with friends of the same age and activities from amusement parks to backyard bouncy houses.  As young adults, birthdays tend to be celebrated at restaurants and bars, with plenty of alcohol flowing.  In the decades following we seem to favor SURPRISE! parties.

Now, as my sixtieth birthday looms like the next interstate exit, I’m all about more subdued celebrations.  A quiet dinner out with my wife.  A trio of phone calls from my kids.  A single piece of birthday cake instead of something big enough to hold five dozen candles.  Wouldn’t want the day to pass without acknowledgment but the simpler the gesture the better.

Speaking of birthday cake, it’s perhaps the single tie that binds as we celebrate our years young and old.  I picture a baby’s birthday cake as small and round, with a big #1 candle on top.  Cover your kid in plastic and put the cake close enough so he or she can dig in with both hands.  We have these priceless and messy pictures for each one of our kids.

Young children have the most adventurous cakes.  I picture a blank rectangle just waiting to be populated with frosting, decorations, and little toys, like an artist’s canvas.  Dump trucks working on a cake-top construction site.  Animals living in a cake-top jungle.  Ballerinas dancing across a cake-top stage.  The possibilities are endless.

After childhood, cake designs evolve to the age itself.  Whether big wax numbers or individual candles, the focus of the cake becomes the number.  After enough of those years, we try to be more subtle (ex. spell out the age with candles) so we don’t set the house on fire.  Later in life, we save the biggest celebrations (and cakes) for the round numbers because ages 80, 90, and 100 are achievements in themselves, aren’t they?

There’s evidence to suggest birthdays and cakes have been a combo as far back as ancient Roman times but for me, birthday cake is simply a nod to happy childhood memories.  Birthday-cake-flavored ice cream, cookies, and even protein bars are all the rage for this reason.  We just want to be kids again, breathlessly anticipating the celebration of our special day.

Some content sourced from IMDb, the Internet Movie Database, and Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia”.

Author: Dave

Three hundred posts would suggest I have something to say… This blog was born from a desire to elevate the English language, highlighting eloquent words from days gone by. The stories I share are snippets of life itself, and each comes with a bonus: a dusted-off word I hope you’ll go on to use more often. Read “Deutschland-ish Improvements” to learn about my backyard European wish list. Try “Slush Fun” for the throwback years of the 7-Eleven convenience store. Or drink in "Iced Coffee" to discover the plight of the rural French cafe. On the lighter side, read "Late Night Racquet Sports" for my adventures with our latest moth invasion. As Walt Whitman said, “That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” Here then, my verse. Welcome to Life In A Word.

16 thoughts on “Once-A-Year Cake-and-Cheer”

  1. Well, I tried the birthday thing, sadly, like you mentioned all these youngsters popped up. Not one recognizable name — my gosh, I feel ANCIENT! Someone else mentioned that, they don’t recognize movie stars anymore… I see a nice bonfire on the beach for YOUR 60th, family around the pit! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Totally agree Monica, I wish I hadn’t even seen the “Famous Birthdays” website for all the (young) strangers sharing my birthday. I already knew I shared with Diane Lane, which was good company already!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m trying to do the “embrace the age thing”, Neil. Some days it works, others not so much. But I’m comfortable enough to not even consider turning back the clock 25 years. There were challenges then too (just different ones). As they say, life is a book with several chapters.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nobody I know shares my birthday either…so I’m old too. Who are all these people? Happy Soon to be 60th Birthday Dave! Those Rice Krispies do look interesting……

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Here’s another question, Joni. What exactly is the taste of “birthday cake”? I mean, for most people it’s a vanilla cake/vanilla frosting mash-up, but I beg to differ. My birthday cakes are always chocolate, whether the cake or the frosting or both (and German Chocolate is my absolute favorite). Needless to say I’m not really excited about the birthday-cake-flavored foods, and the standard Rice Krispie treat is just fine with me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t know but I’m willing to sample to find out! I doubt if we have those here in Canada but I’ll check. We’re always behind trends so I’ve seen nothing birthday cake flavored here. For me, it’s chocolate cake too, with chocolate icing. Vanilla cake is too bland.


  3. I just paged through a list of “celebrities” with my birthday and didn’t know most of them. Sharing yours with Madonna is a good connection. I have often been traveling on my day, so that’s what I most celebrate. Enjoy your 60th!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the sentiment, Ruth! I don’t share my birthday with Madonna (one of the Denver area radio hosts does) but there was a time I would’ve been fine with it. Her music was certainly a part of my college years. Turning 60 now, not so much 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree, Diane Lane is delightful company on the We-Share-the-Same-Birthday list. Don’t think I’ll even bother checking that web site. It’s sure to prove disappointing! I’m with you, Dave. A birthday dinner with loved ones is the best way to celebrate. No hoopla necessary!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Diane Lane seems like a throwback to the golden years of Hollywood. Ditto Jane Seymour. I find very few actors these days who deserve association with those of generations past. Most seem to be in it for the size of the paycheck these days instead of the quality of the acting.

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  5. You are right Dave – I didn’t recognize most of the celebrities who share my April 14th birthday. I did know of country western singer Loretta Lynn though. I am not a movie buff, however, I do remember Diane Lane in the western miniseries “Lonesome Dove”. It’s funny because I am not a cowboys and Indians movie fan as a general rule, but I did like that miniseries very much and I read the book by Larry McMurtry shortly thereafter.

    Sixty years old is still young! My ire was raised earlier today when I heard a news story about Pfizer. A Pfizer spokesperson said “a third dose of the vaccine has already been authorized for elderly people and at-risk adults …” – excuse me, when did 65 become elderly? I turned 65 this year and do not consider myself elderly. I resent that statement.


  6. I agree with you, Linda. 65 and “elderly” do not go together. Not even 70, with people living as long as they do these days. “Lonesome Dove” was excellent and just another example of why I’d watch anything with Robert Duval. He’s still acting at age 90! His bio doesn’t use the word “elderly” anywhere; rather, “veteran”. Much more respectful.


  7. Happy belated birthday. Yes, your list of famous birthdays is depressing. At least Mike Tyson was up top. I found another site, with a wide variety. I share a birthday with economist Thomas Sowell, a man I hold in the highest regard. But then there is Willy Sutton the old bank robber. I share the actual date with actor Vincent D’Onofrio. I like to think I have aged better, but it could just be my imagination.

    June 30 is almost perfectly equidistant from Christmas, so I maximized present variety that way.

    You are (presumably) by now on the far side of 60 – only now it’s the near side, I guess. It works out. Someday we’ll look back on the early 60s as the prime of life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually my birthday is late January, J.P., so I have two more months of “youth” yet to enjoy. I wrote this post when I did because the topic came up on a radio program that day. At least I’m a month removed from Christmas.

      Liked by 1 person

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