Always birthday cake time

The great thing about having a big family is it automatically guarantees lots of folks to eat birthday cake.
With five children in six years, my parents insured that even in January – when we had three birthdays inside of a week – the cakes would disappear.
At the end of the birthday supper, Mom presented the day’s birthday child with a ski-sloped, double-layered birthday cake. Ski-sloped because the off-level kitchen range afforded some shifting during the baking process. She pinned the layers together with toothpicks and filled in the difference with lots of frosting.
The cakes never lasted very long. Cut into a pinwheel of eight pieces, we served one piece to each family member – and an extra piece for the birthday child. Before we left the table we had eaten the entire cake – washing it all down with glasses of ice cold milk.
With so many children in the house, and so many birthdays in such a short time, we rarely had more than just family for the birthday – but it was enough.
As it was enough when I flew to Pennsylvania recently and celebrated the oldest grandchild’s birthday along with her dad’s birthday – which comes later in the month.
Before church, the birthday girl (and her sister) received new look-alike turquoise skirts and white tops to wear with white tights and black dress shoes. Giggling gleefully, their skirts swaying in rhythm, the two pranced their way down the halls of the church, strutting their pride in their new clothes. Their brother ambled along behind them, looking stiff in his Sunday best.
Back home, their momma assigned everyone something to do. I grated the cheese for the casserole. My son cut and arranged fresh pineapple around the baked chicken. The girls scooped up two flavors of icing. German chocolate frosting for their dad’s chocolate cake and a white cream cheese frosting for the funfetti cake for the birthday girl.
Before we sat down, the birthday child also arranged new pots of purple and white violets around a bowl of sprouted garlic and onion bulbs. With a festive red, damask tablecloth, the room felt ready to celebrate.
At the end of the meal, dad and daughter claimed dibs on lighting the new candles which resisted being lit. Spent matches piled up in front of the birthday honorees.
Lighting candles on a cake should be easy, but the more candles one has, the harder it becomes.
My son reached around a burning candle, felt the flame nip his fingers, reactively blew out the match – along with half of the lit candles. His daughter laughed and stretched her match across her cake to her candles and – did the same thing.
They scratched more matches and tried again.
Reaching the last couple of candles, my son again got too close to a flame and again reflexively blew  out the tiny flames.
More matches and finally all the candles glowed.
The 2-year old – who celebrated her birthday last month – knew exactly what to do next. Grinning knowingly, she leaned over and blew out half of her dad’s candles.
Her father lit another match and began again.
The little one leaned over to blow out candles again, but her momma held her back. With all the candles finally lit, we sang “Happy Birthday” quickly and the birthday duo released the cakes from their halo of flames for us to enjoy a piece of cake.
No, they didn’t cut each cake into eight pieces and serve them with ice cold milk … but even with two cakes, little remained at the end of the day.