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Birthday parties, cake, and a long memory

Birthday parties, cake, and a long memory

Celebrating my second birthday surrounded by friends. I’m at the far right wearing the red dress and standing in my chair. I’m clearly fixated on that delicious birthday cake.

The year I turned 5 we were living in Memphis having just moved the year before from Jacksonville, North Carolina where my dad was stationed at Camp Lejeune. My dad had retired from the military and we moved to Memphis, where my mom was from and where most of her immediate family still lived. Newly retired but still needing to support his wife and child, my dad got a job at McDonald’s. This turned out to be a wonderful job especially for a little girl.

Pictures from that birthday show a happy child surrounded by cousins and other relatives. There were games, the play area, and of course cake.  At that time, McDonald’s had birthday sheet cakes adorned with the McDonald’s characters made out of hard sugar – Ronald McDonald, the Hamburgler, Birdie, the Fry Kids, and Grimace.

While I trust that the pictures have accurately captured the fun and excitement of what could only be described as every child’s ideal birthday party, what they don’t show is one stand out memory that I need no photographic evidence to remember.

I don’t know if I was a fan of Grimace, if I just liked the color purple even at that age, or if I simply thought the Grimace birthday cake topper would be the sugary sweetest. But what I do remember is that I had the Grimace from the cake and I saved it so that I could eat it later. 

But lo and behold after returning from the play area those efficient McDonald’s workers had cleared our table and Grimace with it. 

Y’all, I am about to turn 36 and I cannot let this memory go. 

I once even told my dad about it and he said I needed to get over it! How dare he! I have preserved this memory for decades and I deserve all of the saltiness I feel for not being able to get a sugar high off of eating my specially saved cake decoration.

Though there have been many more birthdays, many other cakes, some very delicious ones like the carrot cake with the big orange carrot on top, or the twin strawberry cakes in the shape of hearts – the curse of having a birthday the day after Valentine’s Day – btw that birthday party was super fun too, or the ice cream cake that I’m pretty sure I had to eat in one sitting because college dorm life, or the lemoncello cream torte from The Cheesecake Factory that my then boyfriend’s brother drove to Memphis for my surprise party, I cannot forget the McDonald’s cake and my stolen Grimace.  

And since it’s almost my birthday and I can do whatever I want, at least on this blog, I had to share this treasured food memory with you. Anyone else have a petty birthday food memory to share? I know I can’t be the only one.

one year old SunAh in a high chair eating a piece of birthday cake
my first birthday


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