Birthdays are always special, irrespective of the age of the person who is having one. They are days on which the birthday person deserves special somethings, a lot of love and warmth, care, and surprises – little and big. A A piece of me always withers away whenever anyone’s special day – like a birthday – passes by just like that, without even a little sweet gesture or surprise to mark it.
First birthdays are all the more special, because they are the very first in a little person’s life. The little person might be too little to realise that it is his/her first birthday, but it deserves something special just the same. When Bubboo’s first birthday came by recently, I wanted her to have the same special treatment, too.
On the actual day of her birthday, Amma wasn’t around – she had to go to Chennai for a family emergency. The husband worked from home on that day, and I took the day off my projects too, spending every minute of the day with Bubboo. A simple home-made lunch was enjoyed, relaxedly. A visit to the nearby temple happened in the evening, followed by dinner at a nearby restaurant. Bubboo behaved beautifully, and we managed to have a calm dinner. Phone calls from friends and family followed, and then, we fell into a deep, peaceful sleep.
I come back to the point of the post – the cake. We had a little cake-cutting ceremony for Bubboo the weekend after her actual birthday, when Amma was back. We wanted a lot of kids at her birthday, for Bubboo to know them and for them to know Bubboo and recognise a potential friend in her. The OH and I needed to bond with our new neighbours, too. So, we planned out a little celebration in our new apartment, and I think we executed it well, in spite of a whole lot of stresses and health issues.
I simply couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of a store-bought cake for the celebration. This is just my two rupees and not meant to cause offense to anyone, but I found the idea of buying a ready-made cake from a bakery a little impersonal. I didn’t want something that some nameless, faceless baker had baked for a nameless, faceless child. I wanted something created specially for Bubboo, something that would look different from the run-of-the-mill cakes. I, being my usual contradictory self, did not want anything overboard or way too expensive, either. For days, I was stuck in a dilemma – I didn’t want a lavish, personalised cake on which I would spend thousands of rupees, for I’d rather do that when Bubboo is older and will get happier on seeing an extraordinary cake created keeping her current obsessions in mind. I didn’t want Bubboo to get used to lavish, extravagant celebrations all the time, either. At the same time, I wanted the cake to be special. I didn’t know how to make it special, though. I could have made the cake at home myself, but I don’t trust myself with baking for a crowd. The OH, being the OH, left me to find the solution from somewhere within myself and take a suitable decision.
It was then that I found a very promising home baker, who works as an HR executive and is mother to a daughter, too. I saw her work and tasted a few samples, and was floored. Her charges were quite reasonable too – if we decided to go with her, we would be spending more or less the same amount we would if we bought the cake from a bakery. My decision was made. It had to be her! Things soon fell into place. The moment I saw a pink-and-white cake full of roses in her album, I knew that was the cake for Bubboo’s birthday celebration. The colours matched with her pink-and-white birthday dress too, one that we had picked out months ago. And why did we get a pink-and-white dress? Because that was the first one that the OH and I fell in love with when we went birthday-dress hunting. The dress is more white than pink, enough white to stand out from the garish, cake-like dresses that are being sold for little girls these days, and enough pink for the little girl in me to love. Beat the stereotypes, but you don’t have to let go of what you love, right?
In retrospect, choosing this home baker turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever took. The lady involved me at various stages throughout the cake-making process, and ensured that I was completely satisfied with it before I paid for it. A number of WhatsApp messages and SMSes were exchanged to get it just right. An absolutely perfect, wonderfully juicy and delicious Black Forest cake was delivered to us right on time. The cake was much appreciated by everyone at the party, too. My daughter had her first sampling of cake at the party, and I am glad it was of a cake baked with a whole lot of love and warmth, by another mother.
The cake-cutting party was a simple, homely affair. Close family members and neighbours we are getting closer to attended. Like we wanted, there were a lot of kids at the celebration. Bubboo’s cousins blew up a lot of balloons, and the brother-in-law, his wife, the OH, and I put them up on the walls and ceiling, along with a lot of crepe paper garlands and paper fans. The overall effect was simple, but colourful and warm and lovely. The OH and I wore pink-and-white outfits, too. Bubboo didn’t cry, like I had worried she would, and the cake was cut to a lot of claps and kisses. One of my ex-colleagues, who is a great photographer, captured the event on camera.
We had chosen a simple menu for the party, a mix of North Indian and South Indian food that everyone could enjoy. One of the OH’s friends, who is into the catering business, delivered the food, and it was much loved, too. I chose cake pops as return gifts, delivered by the same home baker we got the cake from. For close family, we gave out personalised Thank You cards with Bubboo’s picture on them, hand-made by yours truly.
So, that’s how Bubboo’s first birthday celebration went, and she seemed to enjoy it, too. This event surely has taught a few things to the OH and me, some lessons that are going to hold us in good stead in life. I hope this is only the beginning of many such happy, warm celebrations for Bubboo. I hope this will go on to teach her the value of the love of family and friends, and how everything falls into place when they are around for one. I hope this teaches her to celebrate occasions as best as one can, considering the given circumstances. I hope she learns to do certain little things to make special occasions special, in spite of there being a lot of challenges and stresses in everyday life. I hope this teaches her that there are a lot of tasks in life that can be outsourced, but there are things that bring great pleasure if done by oneself. I hope she learns to put thought into all of her actions, too, small and big.
I hope Bubboo will grow to love and cherish the story of her first birthday celebrations, and look at pictures from the event with a smile on her face.