My sweet V had her eighth birthday this month. She had been speaking of a Mickey Mouse birthday party for well over five months. One of her ideas included a Mickey Mouse birthday cake. I already knew I was not going to buy a "use only once $30 cake pan." Instead, I would be creating my own copy of Mickey Mouse using my rather less than perfect copying skills.
In my attempt to avoid using artificial dyes with ADHD issues, I used leftover ganache in my fridge to draw Mickey and color his skin. I used turmeric for his shoes, and cherry jam for his shorts. It created a bit more of a challenge needless to say.
After I finished drawing and filling out Mickey, I laughed at this image which lay before me. His head was a bit larger than the rest of his body with a sinister look on his face. The image in my brain didn't quite transfer onto the frosted brownies. Still, in making these brownies and decorating it with Mickey made me think of my sixth birthday party.
My cake was white with pink frosting and sprinkles everywhere. Deliberately, I placed my Strawberry Shortcake figurines on the pink frosting to replicate my version of a store made Strawberry Shortcake cake. We played charades, ran around the house and opened presents. There weren't any party favors, or fancy decorations. I had a blast.
Birthday parties of old remind me when life wasn't overcomplicated. Maybe it's because I was a carefree kid; yet, as a mama in an age of social media I often feel a struggle between two worlds of birthday parties.
One faces a time when all cakes were in a 9x13 pan accompanied by a scoop of ice cream, when food allergies & sensitivities were scarce, and kids played outside a lot. Back to a time when decorations were scarce and party favors were a treat, not obligatory.
The other faces the current time where Pinterest showcases a world we feel we need to buy into. Where a birthday party is successful when the streamers, balloons, opulent cake pops constructed with matching party favors, and thank you notes already written handed to guests on the way out. The world where money has no bounds it would seem.
Can I ask---where did this world come from? Does it buy more joy? Does it buy happiness? How did perfection get misconstrued as beauty?
When I woke up on the morning of V's birthday party, groggy and in desperate need of coffee, I got plummeted by THE BIGGEST HUG and a "Thank you Mama for making the best Mickey cake! I love it!"
As I went to bed the night before thinking, "Oh I wish I could have done a better job," I was met with gratitude from one of my biggest fans.
Mamas, can we bring back birthday parties of the 80s, or whatever that means to you?
Let's pull out our 9x13 pans, leaving the cake in the pan to serve (as if there was ever another option). Let's serve a scoop of ice cream to accompany it. Let's play charades, or pin the tail on Mickey or some other ridiculous game kids love. Let's get rid of feeling we have to give party favors out. Let's ignore what Pinterest, Martha Stewart or some blogger showcases as "normal." Let's not spend our time replicating perfection for perfection sake. Rather, let's embrace simplicity at its core. One where we aren't dipping into savings for a birthday memory. One where our kids are introduced to a carefree childhood of friends singing "Happy Birthday" as candles flicker in that ole glass Pyrex pan, and a simple "Thank you for coming to my party," is sufficient party favors.
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