It’s a week of birthdays in our family. My son, his wife, a grandson, and a granddaughter all have birthdays this week. I have been filled with so many emotions. Feelings of time passing too quickly, nostalgia for years passed by, and wishing I could be in more than one place to celebrate with each of them.
Tonight we are with Maggie, celebrating her first birthday. A tradition coming from her daddy’s side of the family was adorable, but messy! In his family, a small cake was made for the one-year old. It was called a “smash cake.” The baby is put in her highchair with only her diaper on and allowed to “explore” the cake. It was hilarious to watch Maggie put a finger in, taste it, and then go face first into the cake. She had no fear. With frosting all over her face, she was in heaven.
I was reminded of another first birthday party of my nephew’s son. His parents had been very fastidious in his care, frequently washing hands and offering only healthy foods. On his first birthday, he was offered a cupcake. He’d never had sugar or anything like cake. It terrified him and he shrieked! He would have no part of cake or celebration. Children are so different and that’s the joy that keeps life interesting.
In the family I grew up in, birthday dinners were steeped in a tradition that went generations back. My great grandmother put her garden in as early as possible so that she would have peas by the 4th of July around the time of her birthday. It was important to her that she be able to offer her family and guests a few fresh peas. For her birthday she would serve “chicken and a few peas.” So that tradition passed down in my father’s family. Even when they didn’t have much during the Depression, a birthday dinner would be “chicken and a few peas.” Then, that’s what my mother served us. Most of the time, it would be a roaster with stuffing, and a few peas. When I was very young, that meant canned peas (Yuck.) But when I got older, my mom discovered frozen peas, and then petite peas which became my favorite until I discovered sugar snap peas.
Such small things like a “smash cake” or “chicken and a few peas” bind generations and tie us together. I’m glad that I know that my great grandmother took pride in her garden. And now, I’m happy that “smash cake” has become part of our family birthday celebrations.