The week before Christmas is not exactly a good time to have a birthday. Everyone, including me, is overwhelmed with holiday preparations, not to mention final exams. Adding a birthday celebration during that week feels like foisting yet another obligation on your friends and family, not to mention yourself.
Now, don’t go feeling sorry for me and throw me a party – it’s already been tried. My first year in med school, my sister Fran, God rest her soul, made me a surprise party the night before my Biochem final. I was utterly miserable the entire evening. Thank god I passed the final, but not all my friends did.
The final straw on my birthday camel’s back was when I married into a Jewish family and Chanukah got added into the holiday mix.
Between shopping for presents for eight nights plus Christmas, lighting candles, making latkes and decorating the tree, who has time for a birthday? I certainly didn’t.
Then, 18 years ago, on the day before my birthday, my second daughter Natalie was born. Now that was a reason to celebrate! Amazing really, how that additional birthday was nothing more than added joy. I found plenty of time to make a birthday party for her every year (one of which I even chronicled in this blog). No sweat. Really and truly. Just a joy.
This of course, gave me yet another reason to continue to ignore my own birthday, which is actually a good tactic for forgetting how old you really are. My family of course remembers, as do friends, and I get cards and gifts, but I never found myself celebrating my own birthday beyond that. I’m just too busy and I just don’t care.
But this year, my daughter, now a college student with her own schedule, finals and friends, suggested we celebrate our birthdays together. Suddenly, all the energy I had used to make her birthday special spilled back on mine. My husband made the dinner and my daughter and I made the cake. (Well, I made the cake and she licked the beaters.) Although we sorely missed my eldest daughter, now living in Philly, it was really fun. And, for the first time in many, many years, I found myself actually enjoying my own birthday!
I think this shared celebration is going to be a new family tradition.
As is this delicious cake.
DEVIL’S FOOD CAKE WITH WHITE ICING
This cake recipe is my third foray into a wonderful vintage cookbook, Favorite Tortes and Cake Recipes by Rose Oller Harbaugh and Mary Adams. The first two (Blueberry Cake with Lemon Sauce and a Rococco Torte) were resounding successes, and this recipe joins them as new classics in my baking repertoire.
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 pound butter
- 1 1/3 cups brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 5 squares bitter chocolate, melted and cooled
- 1 1/4 cups milk
Sift flour, soda and cinnamon three times.
Cream butter until lemon colored, add sugar and cream together thoroughly. Add well-beaten eggs and chocolate and continue beating. Then alternately add flour mixture and milk, beating well after each addition. Bake in 3 well-buttered and floured 8 inch pans (I lined mine with wax paper) and bake 30 mins in 325 degree fahrenheit oven.
Fill and cover layers with Pretty Darned Near the Best Frosting I’ve Ever Had.