You know how it feels. That moment comes with anticipation and hesitation, in a final jab of delight and regret in equal measure. One minute you’re enjoying a beautiful wedge of chocolate layer cake, with that special someone you don’t mind sharing a fork with and aren’t the least bit squeamish of saliva sharing because, well, it's all part of the moment's richness, and the next, it's gone.
One glorious forkful at a time, you both work from the pointy edge to the deep outer layer of buttery frosting. Approaching this reward, you’re chatting quietly, sipping dark coffee or red wine, close enough to see the flecks of color in your companion’s eyes. You near the inevitable tipping point and set down your fork between bites, wanting it to last and to preserve some semblance of decorum, struggling to balance wanting the last mouthful for yourself with a selfless wish that your person gets to enjoy it.
Despite conversations nearby, the world has gone quiet. Faint "Mmm's" of content surround the communal dessert plate. The cake slice remains upright, daring you like a stack of Jenga tiles. Not knowing when it will fall, you wager on whose poke will cause its collapse. Finally, deciding to attack together, laughing and simultaneously saying, “Oh, nooo!” as it lands softly face down. The last bites are always the best even as they signal the end.
It was December 1998 the last time I remember enjoying a piece of cake so thoroughly. Although I'm quite sure I didn't share my slice on that particular occasion. You see, it was my birthday. True to form, in her way of making people feel special, my daughter researched how to bake and assemble a double chocolate layered birthday cake. She did not bake or regularly cook so the fact that she did this in my kitchen, secretly, is a marvel. She disliked surprises directed at her but loved surprising others. Sweet mission accomplished, babe!
These memories come as I near the end of my decade of a certain age and wondering what life will look like a year from now or the next 40 years for that matter. I'm grateful for the freedom to look that far ahead.
December is quite the birthday month in my circle of friends and family in addition to it being the month Christians celebrate the Christ child's birth. That may explain why I've heard the phrase "many happy returns" so much lately. Curious about this turn of phrase, I learned it has been in use since Roman times, is a British-style of formality, is Pooh bear's preference and can be used as both a greeting and a blessing. I like it for its blessing quality; how it emphasizes future happiness.
I plan to continue devouring the deliciousness of each day, moving ever closer to its sweet edge. I'll enjoy moments of anticipation or delight and honor faltering times of hesitancy and regret for the guideposts they are.
For my birthday wish this year I will use this many happy return style blessing.
"May we all land softly when we reach our tipping point and may the best moments be yet to come."
How is it for you? Do birthday’s matter? Do you prefer to look back or forward?
Share a memory of a favorite celebration in the comments below.
Did you enjoy this post? For more, Subscribe to the newsletter.