Bunnies, Butterflies and Grown-up Birthdays

I realize as I’m writing this that I am still delinquent in delivering Bustle’s now EXTREMELY late birthday present, so I’m hoping her ever generous, good grace will extend to me once more, as she reads this post.

Last weekend hailed the yearly spring spectacular that is my sister’s birthday! Actually, my sister has been pretty low-key about her birthdays for years now, but I can never forget the elaborate themed birthday parties we used to throw for one another when we were in college and in our early twenties. I still miss them. However, we have held on to a few traditions, and today, lovely readers, I share these with you.

For me, these kinds of things are very precious. I suspect my more modern, practical sis is less attached to them than I, in fact, I believe I may be the most sentimental family member when it comes to traditions (cue the yearly struggle to recreate the Thanksgiving meal we always made with my grandparents - I struggling mightily to hold on to these precious few relics of Thanksgivings past against other family members that would just as soon order Chinese).

I think these little rituals, these rituals born of family or friendship or sisterhood, or whatever creates the fabric of our emotional existence; these rituals matter. They are the stuff of which our fondest memories are made.

Ritual Number 1 – An elaborate and whimsical Birthday Cake

(Birthday goodness or Hitchcock nightmare? You decide.)

I could tell you tales of cakes shaped like dragons, volcanoes, castles,pirate ships, kites surrounded by cloud cupcakes,mermaids, butterflies, flowers, white rabbits & cheshirecats, or the entire freakin’ island of Hawaii topped by a hula girl. Over the years my sister and I have made a lot of (usually) very impressive and creative cakes. This year, Vee wanted yellow cake with chocolate frosting, posing a bit of a challenge. This is her fave cake combination in terms of flavor, but the chocolate frosting can be very limiting when trying to create a whimsical shape or scene. And after so many years, new ideas are becoming harder to come by. I found the inspiration for this cake when looking at wedding cakes. I had originally planned a butterfly shaped cake with the wings decorated in various sizes and colors of candy, but these edible butterflies I ordered off of Amazon made for a delicious and impressive Birthday treat that I believe was both more beautiful and (frankly) easier. They aren’t cheap, dear readers, but they do make an impact. You can order them here.

Number 2 – Party Favors

It may seem juvenile, but I have never gone to one our grown-up birthday dinners, and not had guests delightedly snap up the party favors on offer. Everyone is a kid at heart, it would seem. This year, it was bubble necklaces in pink and purple. When we went to a bar later, everyone thought there was some major party or rave we’d all been to that they were missing out on. The envy of these hipsters was a nice antidote to a (ahem) milestone birthday that often feels less than cool.

Number 3 – The Bunny

The biggest birthday tradition of all is the Bunny, and this one is reserved just for Vee. When on a lengthy summer road-trip as children, my sister lost her favorite stuffed animal, a bunny with rainbow striped arms and legs that I had given to her. She was inconsolable. I don’t know exactly when the idea overtook me, but at some point I began getting her a bunny for every birthday, in a vain attempt to restore that long-lost treasured rabbit. It became a yearly tradition, and has carried on for far longer than remains rational. I don’t care. However, I do sometimes try to find different ways to represent the Bunny (how many stuffed animals can a grown woman store?). This year, I found a white ceramic cookie jar shaped like a bunny. I used paint pens (yes, paint pens - apparently I’m a teenager in the 80’s over here, but paint pens are still sold so….somebody’s using them?) to decorate the cookie jar with trees, flowers, stars, clouds, hearts, even a ship sailing under a starry sky, and of course, our secret initials for each other.

Do you have special rituals you share with a sibling or best friend? Share in the comments!

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