Birthday Candles

November 25, 2022
birthday candles
birthday candles

I love birthdays. It’s not because growing up mine was so spectacular. On the contrary, there are many reasons that it sometimes felt like an afterthought. Being born on January 2nd means that when considering having a party for yourself, there is practically no one who has the energy or desire after Christmas and New Year’s Eve to celebrate one more thing. This birthdate also created a gift giving dilemma for my Mother, knowing that her gift buying budget was usually consumed by Christmas, she would sometimes simply declare as I opened my presents under the tree, “ Sharon Ann, that one is for Christmas AND your birthday.”  In other words, keep your expectations on the low side for your birthday this year. 


I had my own dilemma to consider on January 2nd because my little brother Peter, who was three years my junior was born on the 4th of January. Many a birthday, but not everyone, my Mom would declare that we were celebrating both of our birthdays on the same day. Because we had so much fun together growing up, I really didn’t resent it, but there were times when I wanted the spotlight all to myself, especially while making a wish while blowing out the candles on the cake. I was concerned about dividing my wish power by two.


I don’t remember any gift I ever got, except for the five-dollar bill each of us would receive from our Floridian grandparents, the same five dollars with no increases for inflation way into my twenties.  The best part of my birthday was choosing my favorite meal and the kind of cake I wanted. For dinner I usually chose barbecued country ribs with mashed potatoes and apple sauce and for the cake I would choose either angel food cake with my Mom’s runny icing flowing down the sides, or her pound cake, which she called the 1,2,3,4 cake (one of milk, 2 of sugar, three of flour and four eggs)  with the same runny icing but sprinkled with chocolate jimmies. Occasionally I opted for individual ice cream snowballs covered in coconut from UDF, each of which had a candle set in the center. Everybody got to blow their own candle out with that decision. I always hoped they might be wishing something good for me.


When I was out in California recently, I glanced into the window of a gift shop, and I was instantly transported back in time to the one thing I had forgotten about that was all mine on January second. It was my year-to-year birthday candle. I am not sure why I was the only one who had one, but when dinner began it was my cue to light it. Throughout dinner I would watch it burn down to the age I had arrived at, then blow it out. It was such a simple yet beautiful way of watching time pass in a moment, in a year. I could see by the height of the candle with numerals from 1 to 21 that I was going to have a lot to look forward to.I could  actually see there was a chance of being thirteen, sixteen, even  twenty-one. I had forgotten until looking into the window of that gift shop how much I had enjoyed that small ritual.  It also triggered another memory of a gift from my mother. It was my own can of whipping cream that I could squirt on anything I wanted to until it ran out. That was a real thrill. Life is funny. I am seventy years into my life, and it seems that the simplest things often do matter the most. Birthdays especially matter, no matter how you decide to celebrate them.  


Recently, Christine, our cheerful customer service manager in the bakery has done me a great favor hunting down the same, but not identical year by year number candles. We just started selling them in the bakery. Consider purchasing one if you want your children to remember their birthdays 60 years from now, or maybe it will be a cake from their favorite bakery that they will remember.




PS Dont forget to ask for a complimentary pack of BonBonerie matches to light the candles on your cakes. Lighting the candles is part of the fun. Its our gift to you.