“It’s just another day,” said Daddy as we were about to sing “Happy Birthday.”
No, Daddy, it’s not! I silently screamed. This is the day you were born. That makes it special. Why can’t you feel special? Mama’s showing you you are. She made you a cake.
When Mama made my birthday cake every year, I felt special. I had the same feeling about my brothers and sister when their turns came. Our mother had singled out each of us as being unique and important.
Our birthdays never came with presents. Daddy’s alcoholism stole that money. But we six children could count on a two-layer cake with buttercream frosting from Mama.
I wished my father, wrapped in alcoholic tantrums, did not say and do awful things to Mama. In spite of it all, every November 16 she would honor him on his birthday with a cake. In her heart she thought of him as special, and she wanted him to believe it of himself.
Eventually, it was for Daddy only that Mama made a birthday cake. Her children had gradually left home. Year after year, though, we all returned with our growing families for Christmas dinner. One of those Christmas nights, Mama started a new tradition.
“Come into the kitchen,” she called to her grandchildren. “We’re going to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Jesus. I made Him a cake.”