I love birthdays. Love them. Not just mine, but friends', family's - they are the perfect excuse to bring a group of people together for a moment of pure frivolity and jubilation. And possibly an overly emotional expression of love or two? I've always loved my birthday, because I got to see and spend quality time with the people I love, and there wasn't really anything they could do about it. And the food? Oh, the food. That's the hardest part. Go anywhere, eat anything; the choice is mine, and in a city like Toronto there are countless options. What if I choose the wrong restaurant, make the wrong cake? These are clearly life altering decisions. But year in and year out, the restaurants are always wonderful, and the cakes are always delicious.
A few years ago, Max became fast friends with a coworker named Jake. Jake came with a wonderful group of friends, who had been mishmashed together over the years but were tightly bonded. The surprise? Jake and I had the same birthday, and as he and Max soon became best friends, celebrating together became inevitable. At first, I was (incredibly selfishly) distraught. Did this mean I would have to give up the choices, compromise on the one time a year I could do whatever I liked? I talked to him, worked with him, tried to find something to do that all of our friends would enjoy and a cake that he would love too. But in the end, it couldn't have been more obvious - he could not care less. He just wanted to see his friends, and have a drink and a laugh, where or how he did so was not important. I was still concerned, and continued to be concerned, attempting to compromise and coordinate at every step along the way.
Fast forward about four years, and this group of friends has become something of an extended family to us. We go camping together every year, exchange Secret Santa gifts, celebrate birthdays and holidays and drink and eat and bowl and are merry. I can't be grateful enough for how they've embraced us in their fun and traditions. There's something fairly huge and important to be said about having a guaranteed crowd of people to share both light and monumental times with. And the birthdays are everything to me, because all I want to do is spend time with a bunch of people I love, and they're all there. These friends, and old friends, and new friends, and there are drinks and cakes and meals with family. And oh, it is so wonderful. And nothing else matters.
Well, some things matter - food is definitely one of them. Luckily, Jake loves a light and easy cake as much as I do, and is just happy to partake in a slice. One of my favourite foods in the world is a strawberry trifle my mom would make in summers, and I've carried on the tradition. It reminds me of warm breezes and time spent in backyards, and with the heavy Canadian winter finally subsiding, I wanted to find those flavours in my birthday cake. This one is light, spongey, and creamy, with bright pops of flavour from the berries, and I would make it again in a heartbeat. In fact, I'm planning on making it again for my celebration with Max's family next weekend.