cakeI had a birthday this week. That’s always a big, fun deal for me. Because I’m in the midst of raising children and my natural disposition is fairly quiet, practical and hard working (it’s those Dutch roots), I don’t make a lot of fuss over myself the rest of the year. But all bets are off on my birthday. It’s the one time of year I feel no shame in maneuvering the world around to fit me.

During the early years of marriage where I did not bother to make a few b’day requests, I was a bit disappointed. I mean, my husband tried. I’d get a gift, but probably not a card. And never a cake. With no cake, there’s no singing, no candles, no lights out brouhaha and clapping. Call me juvenile, but isn’t it fun to be fussed over once a year?? I occasionally baked my own cake. But as I grow older, I realized this is silly. It’s my big day, I can dang well have a cake that I didn’t have to put in the oven myself.

So this year, my husband phoned from Sam’s Club on my special day to see if he was forgetting anything. Great! So thoughtful! I immediately prompted him to remember that there is a birthday basic that’s a sweet and he really should pick that up. I assumed this was an obvious request since we’ve had a birthday cake debate for years in this house. Well, he acted like he knew exactly what I meant and said, “Of course! No problem!” He showed up at home with two pounds of chocolate. No cake.

I had to laugh. He tried, right? And who can argue with two pounds of chocolate? We ended up baking a cake together that night and he took on the process of making homemade frosting all by himself. He even scavenged through the cabinets for the sugar letters we used to use on the kids’ cakes and created b’day messages in a special code language since there weren’t enough vowels for all that he wanted to say. It was the best birthday cake ever. Lots of fuss. Lots of family time.

And as a special birthday bonus… I’ve been eating chocolates all week.

***Tell me this– a birthday’s not a birthday at your house until… what? Do you like to have dinner out? A special food? Flowers? What birthday traditions make your big day complete? I’ll give a copy of any book from my backlist to three random posters since it’s my birthday week and I want to share the joy!***

56 Responses to “Birthday Bash”
  1. Cheryl S. says:

    Happy Belated Birthday! A birthday’s not a birthday at my house until the birthday person gets a birthday meal made specially to his/her request. I’m in my forties and my mom (bless her heart) still knows the special meal I like and makes it for me on my birthday. We’re also partial to DQ ice cream cakes but since my birthday’s in December, our local DQ is usually closed for the winter. So that’s a rare treat for me.
    Enjoy celebrating the rest of your birthday month & thanks for including all of us in the celebration!

  2. Laurie G says:

    For our birthdays, we have a tradition of chocolate angel food cake with chocolate whipped cream frostings! Can’t have a birthday without it!

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

  3. Lou Gagliardi says:

    We don’t do anything special anymore. We just dont have the money. We can barely afford our house anymore. That’s the effects of the economy.

    But when we did, we’d go out to dinner, get some ice cream and a cake. Then it evolved into an ice cream cake, and then I told my mom this year for my 26th, I don’t want anything. At all. No cake, no balloons, no presents. I know my parents can’t afford it, so I try not to make a big deal out of holidays anymore.

    • Joanne Rock Joanne Rock says:

      Lou, you must use creativity! I mean, I can see you not asking for anything, but you could set a new standard with the gifts you give. ex– car wash by hand, gift certificate for one week of the other person’s chore, and since you’re a writer, you could pen a humorous ode or a print up a fun Haiku and put it on fancy paper, suitable for office hanging… It’s the thought, right? Some of my fav. gifts are the cards my husband made me from construction paper and crayon depicting our marriage in storyboard format ;-).

      • Lou Gagliardi says:

        Oh, I make things for my parents all the time, and my younger brother (whos 20) as well. I just ask for nothing for myself.

        • Joanne Rock Joanne Rock says:

          Well I’ll be wishing you a few haikus on your next b’day! It’s good to celebrate the day. (^)

          • Lou Gagliardi says:

            That’s coming up in..1 month and 5 days.

            October 16, 1983

            Usually, the only thing I would ask for is $25-$50 (if they can afford it) for novels, but lately I haven’t bothered because I know we can’t afford it.

            But thank you Joanne

  4. Anna Patterson says:

    :-S I agree with you. Birthdays are special. So why not really celebrate your own. I do. I do something nice for myself and you should to. Don’t wait for people to read your mind. I tried that, and it didn’t work. But nonetheless, appreciate all efforts from loved ones, after all, they are your loved ones.
    Happy Birthday (F)
    Anna

  5. Deb's Book Nook says:

    Happy Birthday Joanne! Hope you enjoyed it!

    My mom usually bakes me a dark chocolate cake with chocolate icing for my birthday. The other weekend she surprised us with a chocolate pie. Yum.

    My sweet DH honestly tries in the cake baking dept but really think he needs a little more practice. lol Think the cake that was the most memorable was when he ran out of confectioners sugar for the icing and couldn’t see the new bag, laying right in front of him. He ended up adding corn starch, flour and finally corn meal in an effort to thicken up the icing. Yes I said corn meal. It was a very grainy icing and definitely had an original taste. :-)

  6. Anna Patterson says:

    :-D Happy Birthday. I hope you have a very fun filled day and get lots of presents.
    Anna (&)

  7. jody Allen says:

    well traditions have a way of fizzling down around our house. It used to be on your birthday my side of the family made sure that you got flowers, cake and a bottle of champagne. Now we get the phone calls, and get sung to and of course i get flowers and cards from my hubby and a big sloppy kiss from my little boy.
    Now on my birthday, i REFUSE to cook anythinbg, and if there are dishes someone else is doin them. No matter what, especially since half the time on my birhtday i’m sick. thats what happens when you have a february birthday huh!
    happy birthday Joanne.
    jody

  8. tammie gunter says:

    My birthday i like to have a cake. This is the first yr i will not get one since im diabetic, i found out in april. So i dont know what ill get maybe flowers. Last yr i got nothing, no happy birthday from my husband no gift. This yr Oct 8th is my birthday ill probably get the same thing nothing, . I used to get lots of stuff and have great birthdays. If hubbys job ends the end of sept i wont get nothing. I do ask every birthday and Christmas for a gift card so i can go buy books with it. never get one. Oh well guess since ill be 40 next y r cant really expect much in birthdays with getting older.

    Happy Birthday to you, I hope you had a great one.
    Tammie

    • Joanne Rock Joanne Rock says:

      Take good care of yourself, Tammie! I hope you find a healthy alternative to b’day cake before Oct. 8th rolls around. You know what cheers me up on a birthday? A room full of balloons. No helium needed…. just buy a pack at the dollar store, pucker up to fill them, then wade through them all day. They last forever, and you’ll have to pop them by the end of the week, but there’s a sort of giddiness that comes with balloons. I think it’s all the colors.

  9. Michele Benard says:

    Hi Joanne Birthdays for my kids I go all out and I for my husband I always get a cake,card ect.. however my birthday is two weeks before Christmas as I got older my birthday got lost my own mom and my dad have forgotten my birthday. When I met my husband he got me gifts on my first birthday together he didn’t wrap them just handed them to me. As the years have gone by he has learned to wrap my presents gets a card from him and the kids each get me one. I also get a cake :) Last year he got me a cake with the princesses on it and it said even princesses get old lol. So I can always count on him.

  10. CrystalGB says:

    We always go out to dinner for birthdays and have a birthday cake made at the bakery.

  11. Laney4 says:

    Happy belated birthday, Joanne! As the song goes, “And many moooooore!”

    Such tough questions. Hmmmm…. I turned 50 this year. Friends invited us for supper at their apartment to celebrate. For the very first time in my LIFE, I had a cake baked specially for me. My mom used to give us store-bought cupcakes with a candle or a Deep’N Delicious cake/Sara Lee cake with a candle. As an adult, I have baked all of the cakes for my kids’ and DH’s birthdays — until we too began buying DQ’s ice cream cakes a couple of years ago — YUM! Years ago we would go out to a restaurant on my birthday, as we celebrated my MIL’s birthday at the same time.

    I don’t make a big deal out of my birthdays — UNLESS it is a decade birthday. When I turned 40 and my DH turned 50, we hosted a dance for our friends and relatives to help us celebrate our “90th”. I told everyone to dress comfortably, as I was wearing jeans and slippers, and I stressed that no presents were allowed.

    This year we had planned on having a “110th” birthday party, but it hasn’t happened yet. We wanted our driveway widened/paved before the party so that we could play badminton on the pavement in the front yard (and croquet in the back yard), but because Southern Ontario has been inundated with rain for the entire summer, we still don’t have our driveway done. Our house is only 1050 square feet, so an indoor party for a hundred or so people is not a great option. Time is running out.

    We don’t always celebrate on our actual birthdays, depending on everyone’s work shift, but when we DO get together, it is just my immediate family. We eat a nice homemade meal (yes, that I make), sing Happy Birthday, blow out candles, and then open gifts with great flare. We stretch it out since there’s only four of us.

    As for flowers, I won flowers in a contest in March and was asked when I’d like them delivered. I said on my 50th birthday in April, so THAT was a nice present to get too!

    Thanks for asking, as well as sharing your own birthday celebration(s). I’ve heard that you can never go wrong with chocolate!

  12. Pamela J. says:

    Happy Belated Birthday Joanne!

    When my mom was alive and I still lived at home, she had a silly tradition for me on my birthday. I was born just in time for breakfast, so she would wake me on my birthday every year the same way. She would walk into my bedroom, grab the covers and yank them off me. Then start singing “Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, You look like a monkey and you smell like one too!” Then depending on my response I’d get a tickeling too. Once I got married and moved out, it morphed into a phone call at wake up time with the jingle. Now, it’s a silly happy memory I will forever hold in my heart of her.

    As it’s only my husband and I now, all we do is go out to a nice dinner together. It’s nice, it’s quiet and it’s comfortable.

    -Pamela

  13. Linda Henderson says:

    Happy birthday. My daughters usually take me out to lunch for my birthday. Sometimes it’s not on my birthday because my oldest works. I am not a big fan of cake unless it’s cheesecake. I’ve never met a cheesecake I didn’t like. Usually gifts consist of anything lighthouse related and BOOKS. I will usually buy books for myself for my birthday. Happy birthday to me. And by the way, I would hate it if my Dairy Queen closed for the winter. Love those blizzards.

    Linda Henderson

  14. Colleen says:

    Happy Belated B-day!!! (^)
    For our B-days we get to choose the cake we would want and eat out at the restaurant of our choice! (G)
    Enjoy!!!

  15. Fedora says:

    At our house, it’d definitely cake, although for my youngest, he’s content to eat the fruit off the top and leave the actual cake portion to the rest of us :)

    Happy belated birthday, Joanne! Have some more chocolate! Nothing like a birthday to celebrate! ;) (G)

  16. Maureen says:

    Happy Birthday Joanne! My husband was never good about remembering cakes but my daughter has been making me one for some years now and a birthday is definitely more fun with one.

  17. Paula R. says:

    Hi Joanne, happy belated birthday! I really don’t do much on my birthday. Unfortunately, it is just like any other day. I don’t really do anything special. I read all day, and just relax. Sounds like you had a great time celebrating yours.

    Peace and love,
    Paula R.

    • Joanne Rock Joanne Rock says:

      Paula!! Celebrate yourself! You deserve it. Have you ever made a list of 100 things you want to do in life? Dream big and also think in small terms, but make the list! It’s a fun New Year’s project. Then, pull it out on your birthday and see what thing you can do. A lot of my life goals have to do with visiting places, but others have to do events. ie– one of them is to pick wildflowers in a field while wearing a long dress, a picture hat and carrying a big basket. I’m not kidding ;-). One of these years, I’ll dress up to go wildflower picking. And that is just the kind of thing to do on a b’day, IMHO.

      • Paula R. says:

        I have never made a list of 100 things, but it definitely is an idea. You know what, Joanne? I could see you wearing the long dress with the big basket and picture hat in the fields picking wildflowers. I will keep your list idea in mind, and take it out on my next bday…thanks for the idea. Have a great rest of the day.

        Peace and love,
        Paula R.

  18. Anna Patterson says:

    :-) When I was in high school we girls were talking about what our parents gave us for birthdays. One girl said her mother promised her a designer outfit complete with shoes and purse, but as the days went by before the girl’s birthday, the outfit dwindled down to well, just the skirt and blouse and things. The day before the event, her mother said, “you just haven’t acted right, so now all you get is a slip. ” The girl’s birthday came and she got a note from her mother, the only present she got, and it said, “I’m sorry, but the economy is bad and your dad and I can’t meet the bills. Your lucky to have a roof over your head, so don’t complain.” That girl who told the story was me. It really happened. If times are too tough, no presents, no cake, its the love that counts. or if people just can’t figure out what to give. And if you can’t even feel the love that day, maybe looking back someday, you will feel the love that was honestly there. I do. And if you are a writer, you will share this insight you now have with others. (U)

  19. Patsy L Roberts says:

    (^) well happy belatws birthday!

    On my birthday my hubby and youngest daughter always take me out to eat where ever I want to go… And until he tells me happy birthday, it isn’t really any different than any other day of the year. (U)

  20. Jody F. says:

    We all go out to eat. Birthday persons choice of restaraunt. I would never expect the birthday person to do anything that requires them to work. We won’t even let them drive to their destination, we pick them up.

    Happy Birthday Joanne!!!! (^) (G) (D)

  21. Jane says:

    Happy Belated Birthday, Joanne. A birthday is not a birthday without dinner at home with the family and cake. We always have to have cake. We usually go for the ice cream cake at Carvel.

  22. I usually like to be pampered and thought of. I allow myself to get a facial–something I usually don’t want to splurge on–and love to be taken out to my favorite restaurant and a movie. My favorite BD cake is a pie–German Chocolate Pie but the restaurant that makes it went under years ago, so I dont usually have anything. I DO make a German Chocolate cake ( my grandmother’s recipe, made from scratch) for my hubby on his BD and I enjoy that a lot then.

    • Joanne Rock Joanne Rock says:

      Yum! My mother-in-law makes homemade German Chocolate Cake and it’s one of the most delicious things on the planet. It’s something I shouldn’t learn how to make though, or I could see myself whipping up vats of that frosting for a snack :-O .

      And isn’t that frustrating when a great restaurant goes out of business? I still crave the pizza from a tavern in my youth. Have never tasted anything like it!

  23. Liz Matis says:

    I made it quite clear to my husband when we got married that I get an ice cream cake on my birthday. (my b-day is in July)
    But I let it pass this time around beause Walmart was out of the small cakes and I couldn’t see spending $17 on big cake for just me and him. (My son lives 4 hours away and works weekends – boo hoo – but made up for it by spending a whole week in August with us – he such a good boy)

    • Joanne Rock Joanne Rock says:

      Liz, last fall I went in to buy an ice cream cake for my son and nearly fell over when I saw how much the price had gone up from just a few months before. Ugh! I bought the cake since my son cares more about the cake than presents, but I vowed I’ll buy gallons of ice cream, some candy bars to crush up and learn how to make my own before I pay that much again!!

      Glad to hear your son is good to you!

  24. Teresa W. says:

    Going out with friends and family for dinner and margueritas at our favorite mexican restaurant!

  25. Michele L. says:

    Happy Birthday Joanne! I send many birthday wishes and blessings your way!
    We celebrated Labor Day with my husband’s sister whose name is Joanne. Such a pretty name!

    A birthday isn’t a birthday until we get out our singing candle and put it on the birthday cake. It is a riot! I found it many years ago and have kept it going for years! My husband just loves it!

    Have a wonderful weekend Joanne! The weather here is just beautiful! We plan on going to the Port restaurant in town. It is an old fashioned car hop. So much fun! Then we plan on going to an outside movie theater where they show double features. We love doing that before the summer is over. (*)

    • Joanne Rock Joanne Rock says:

      Love the drive-in! We used to go to one in Indiana when my first son was a baby. It was out in the middle of farm pastures, and you could see them drive the cows home before the first movie. I thought it was great fun to see the cow parade before the double feature.

  26. Deidre says:

    …………till somebody makes a big ‘ol mess, either with food or new toys. lol

    Deidre

  27. Diana says:

    Happy birthday, Joanne!

    I usually like to get together with a few friends on my birthday. I’m not one to make a super big deal about my birthday.

  28. Lyn says:

    My birthday doesn’t feel like my birthday until I’ve had an opportunity to treat myself – usually flowers or a new book or something.
    I’ll usually purchase myself a birthday cake as I live on my own and while I know that I could bake myself a cake, it takes away from the enjoyment of it. I gave up one trying to do anything special for my birthday a couple of years ago – having my birthday on December 17 means that most people are busy with Christmas stuff. I do however take my birthday off work every year – I just need to train my grandparents out of calling me first thing in the morning on my birthday so that I can sleep in on that day.

    • Joanne Rock Joanne Rock says:

      Is it so awful that I take the phone off the hook on mornings I need to sleep in? (T) As long as my whole family is under my roof, I like that gift of extra rest and it’s so rare when that’s an option!!

  29. Cheryl D says:

    I love getting flowers on my birthday. But I usally treat myself to a new book or some new clothes or a massage. Something like that! I love it when my kids will give me hugs and kisses and sign Happy Birthday to me in the morning!! That is what I like the most!!! :-D

  30. Joanne Rock says:

    Thank you all for the birthday wishes and letting me share my b’day tale! I’ve got prize winners to announce… Michele Benard, Tammie Gunter and Linda Henderson.

    I’m emailing you all privately, but all you need to do is email a mailing address and your choice of book from my backlist to joanne@joannerock.com. Please do list your top two choices as my supplies are out on some of the older books, but I’ll do my best! Have a wonderful week and thanks again for dropping by! :D :D :D

  31. Colleen says:

    Congrats ladies on your wins!!! Enjoy! :D

  32. Linda Henderson says:

    Thank you so much. Congratulations to the other winners.

  33. tammie gunter says:

    Thanks so much for picking me, I had a biopsy done Thur they are checking a cyst that had a solid mass for cancer. I ll find out Monday. This was a nice distraction till then. Congrats to the other winners, ive never won anything online before.
    COOL.
    Tammie

  34. Nancy Warren Nancy Warren says:

    Happy Birthday Joanne! No calories in cyber cake, remember.

    Tammie, God Bless. Here’s hoping your news is good.

    Nancy

  35. Michele L. says:

    Congrats to all the winners!

  36. Michele Benard says:

    Thank you! Congrats to the other winners :D

  37. Amelia Hernandez says:

    To me, a birthday is not a birthday until somebody reaches the time (O) when they were born, lol. I have a cousin who was born at 9:16 pm. Everybody hugs and congratulates her… I don’t! Not until 9:16 pm, lol (H)

    But that’s me! LOL :-D

    HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY, JOANNE! (^)

  38. Laney4 says:

    Congrats to you all.
    Linda, Linda, Linda. What can I say but congratulations … and … the tide has turned!
    Enjoy!

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