There they all are, lined up on the banquet table of my life, in the sumptuous buffet of memory. Carefully placed, one after the other, row after delicious row. Cake after cake after cake.
The endearingly homely homemade ones, baked with love, meant to be mashed by jubilant infant fists.
The years of “the best idea ever” Baskin & Robbins ice cream cakes, Mint Chocolate Chip or Jamoca Almond Fudge or Pralines n’ Cream wrapped by a roll of chocolate cake. Sweet gooey slices melting on the plate.
Fancy bakery cakes, festooned with butter cream roses, dotted with sugared violets, scattered with piped green ivy, more longed for, and sometimes more fought for, than the slightly stale layers of the cakes themselves.
A birthday masquerade on the cake stand: cinnamon or chocolate coffee cakes. They perch there uncomfortably and rather ridiculously, porcupined full of candles. Everyone is holding out their plates, dutifully waiting for their slices, silently wishing for chocolate layer or maybe a nice strawberry butter cream instead.
For years a succession of earnest and sprouty carrot cakes were demanded and dutifully served up. Some were beguiled with their vague notions of healthfulness. Others quietly revolted and later opted for Carvel cones.
Finally, befitting the dignity of the passing years, comes the succession of the stately lemon cocoanuts, ethereal as the clouds themselves, the taste a perfect blend of the sweetness and tang of life itself.
I can see them all, lining the long tables of my memory. All candles blazing, anticipation and hope emitting from each and every cake.
I come from a place where birthday cake is always served for breakfast. That way there is also time for cake for lunch and hopefully, cake for dinner. Candles are spent and then tucked under pillows to make certain wishes will come true. They almost always do.
It’s so simple! Cake is just wonderful. But cake, especially birthday cake, is not just meant to be eaten. It’s meant to be shared. And that’s the plan.
So here is my birthday wish for each of you:
Think of someone you love who’s far away. Think of someone you’ve perhaps loved and lost. Eat cake. But eat that slice of cake in their honor. You can pick their favorite cake or yours. It doesn’t matter. The sweet taste of cake and tang of happy times will linger on your tongue.
A slice of cake to feed the body. A sliver of memory to feed the soul.
Many happy returns to you all!