Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Bit About Birthdays

My middle child celebrated his birthday today.  Five years old.  He has now lived abroad for longer than he lived in America.  But he still fiercely identifies himself as an American.  He's the only one in the family who frequently talks about missing America and wanting to move back and live with his Nana.

But, for the time being, he's living here, in England.  And so we celebrated his birthday with a mish mosh of American and Aussie and a few English traditions too.

We had a party at one of those crazy indoor play places- mostly because I just couldn't muster up the energy to host a party at home.  The only thing I had to do was bring a birthday cake and a parcel for passing.

The little guy had his heart set on a fire engine cake so you can imagine how thrilled I was to find this one on display at my local grocery store.

When I asked to order one for the coming Monday the woman behind the counter chuckled and said, "Those cakes don't come in on Mondays."  She proceeded to flip through her book and then added, "I can get it for you on Saturday."  Now, Saturday is a full three days before my party.  Personally, I'm not too fond of three day old cake.  So I gently ask, "Will the cake still be good on Monday if I pick it up on Saturday?"  Another chuckle as she replied, "It's got 2 weeks life on it."  Of course it will still be good three days later!

I contemplated my chances of actually finding a fire engine cake that would be fresh on the day of the party.  But I quickly realized those chances were slim to none.  So I ordered the cake, knowing it would be stale before we even lit the candles.

But, the truth is, the kids loved it.  It looked really cute.  And actually, at an English party, that's really all that matters.  Because no one actually eats the birthday cake at the party.  They light the candles and sing Happy Birthday.  Then they cut up the cake, wrap the pieces up in napkins, and pass them out for the guests to take home with the party bags.

I have a hunch no one actually eats the cake.  A mashed up piece of stale birthday cake in a greasy napkin just isn't all that appetizing.  Even my cake obsessed kids couldn't stomach it.

The take away cake is one tradition I don't plan on keeping when we return to the US.  (Unlike the Aussie tradition of giving the birthday boy 3 cheers at the end of the birthday song.  That one's a keeper).

Happy Birthday Buddy.  Hip Hip Hooray!


  1. what a bummer, how can they not even eat the birthday cake, what a waste of money then lol

    my nephew would LOVE that frie engine cake :)

    happy birthday!!

  2. the hip hip hooray at the end is australian?

    Thats such a cute cake, hope his birthday was wonderful

  3. Happy Birthday to Reid. Love the cake even if it wasn't as fresh as your homemade ones.

  4. Yes- I'd never heard the "Hip Hip Hooray" at the end of the bday song until we moved to Australia! But I love it. It's the perfect ending to the song. :)

  5. Ok... a few things here...love that he is so patriotic! My kids love the American flag, they scream and yell whenever they see one(outside the pub for the Rugby) we do not fly one, we don't sit around singing about the Grand Ol' Flag, but still they know it is "their" flag ...odd to me how these little ones with more time abroad than at home still seem to inherently identify with the States. Now...onto the two day old cake in a napkin. No wonder people take it home, so they do not have to spit out old cake in front of you...but it was REALLY REALLY cute!!
    Way to go LB for having friends to invite. NIce quick work young man!
    And...last but not least...good on ya Mom for knowing about a parcel to pass and not making your kid the "weird American who did not even have a parcel to pass at his party." Good catch! How did you discover that?

  6. Allison- You make me laugh! BTW, Pass the Parcel is common at Aussie bday parties, too. Your guys might be a little too young for it now. But you'll be prepared next year. xx

  7. Those English cakes aren't tasty the first day or the first month baked :) Happy Birthday to him :) XOL

  8. I can see why you were seduced by the cake - TOO cute! My Mr4 would love one of those. And you're right, nobody actually eats it. :-)

    Thanks for popping by the Fibro today.

  9. I second the comment that British cakes are barely worth eating - ever! My kids used to ask pre party if it would be an American cake or British so they were prepared. I say make a good ole American cake and eat it at the party. That is what I did when we lived there.

  10. I read online somewhere that supposedly (according to curator of the museum) Charles & Diana's cake is so well preserved that it "Should taste as good as the day it was baked." Blech. I don't think I could get past that.

  11. Popping over from SITS, and I just had to read this post for birthday cake is a HUGE thing in our house (and it is most definitely eaten, if not devoured!)....how interesting that the cake is never eaten, and also from the comments that I read, I wonder why the British cakes are barely worth eating? Different ingredients?? Thanks for the read, I always love learning about alternate traditions!


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