Do you know anyone who was born on Christmas Day?
I do, and my mother, Marialyce (aka Rusty), is one of them. Maybe that’s why she made such an effort to make birthdays such a celebration for her children. Because December 25th was never just her birthday. As a child, her parents put a candle on a mincemeat pie for her birthday cake, and many of her gifts were combined Christmas and birthday presents.
I started making birthday cakes for Mom with an Easy Bake Oven some time around age 6 or 7. After a molasses cake was a flat fiasco, I turned to Mom’s Julia Child cookbooks. For years, I made an orange chocolate cake with mocha frosting (Le Glorieux with Chocolate-Butter Icing, which just happens to be gluten free). A few years later, we began separating the occasions; opening up Christmas presents in the morning and birthday presents with cake in the evening.
Although she planned parties for many, birthday parties for Mom were few over her lifetime (she could count them on one hand). So when she turned 75, we decided to surprise her.
That Christmas, Mom and her husband planned a visit to my sister’s home in Alabama for the holidays. On Christmas Eve, my husband, our two kids and I flew into town, rented a car, and drove to my sister’s house. Posing as carolers, we rang the door bell about 9:30 pm. As we sang “Jingle Bells” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” my sister called Mom to come see the Christmas carolers. As she came into view, we switched to “Happy Birthday” and watched her smile changed from delight to incredulity.
I’ll never forget that Christmas and what fun it was to surprise her. We’ve all heard that sometimes it’s better to give then receive, and that year, it definitely was.
Merry Christmas! Or should I say, “Happy Birthday!”?
Trip taken December 2004.