Monday, 28 November 2011

Let them eat cake

We have just finished birthday season in the Jennings’ household. Three birthdays in ten days, two of them consecutive. A time of great joy and merriment ? A house filled with birthday laughter? No. For me, birthday season over equals sigh of relief.

Don’t tell those involved, but I loathe the end of November. In fact, I dread it. Firstly, I dread the cakes. This might seem strange, especially to those who know me (skinny I ain’t), it’s just we end up with a surfeit of cakes that makes the EU butter mountain look merely hilly. One for daddy - always pink, always sparkly, perfect for the only man in a household/menagerie of 14 (the boy dog had his bits off, so doesn’t really count). One for each child on their birthday, one for each child's party, one for each child to take to school, and then, occasionally, if the grandparents can’t make the mid-week birthdays, another on the weekend. Bejeezus. It’s cake for tea, cake for lunch, cake for breakfast, cake for the dogs’ dinner, cake for the chickens, and when even the chickens have had enough bloody cake, it goes out for the pigeons and squirrels, who, incidentally, also eventually get bored of cake.

And then there are the cards. Oh dear, I’m not good with cards. My husband LOVES cards. In his house, growing up, cards stayed on the mantelpiece, as far as I can tell, for the entire year. In my house they get swept into the recycling bin within a few hours – as soon as the first one blows over when the front door opens. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing cards, and reading cards – though I would say, and here I'll wager I’ll make myself terribly unpopular, if you are going to the trouble of buying a card only to write ‘To X, Happy Birthday, from Y’, don’t bother. You might as well send a text. Please, write a message of love, a joke, or even a simple: ‘I saw this card and thought of you’. I know. I know. I’m on my own here. The lone voice of card-fascism. Fine. Keep writing boring cards, keep them on the window sill for three months, dust around them and spend your hours repeatedly re-standing them. Blame my cynicism on the birthday deluge.

The November birthdays a day apart really was bad planning. Not least because it opened us up to all sorts of inappropriate commentary on our sex life. A few years back my husband had a young and funky assistant who dated a famous DJ. She was the type of girl who sends the rest of us scuttling beneath the nearest rock. When my husband happened to tell her we had both the girls’ birthdays coming up, she smiled indulgently at him, gave him a sympathetic pat on the arm, and said, “you and Amanda are allowed to have sex more than once every four years, you know.” Thanks for that, lady.

This year my smallest daughter coped brilliantly with the birthday bonanza. Being five years old and seeing your two sisters enjoy a pile of presents, and non-stop attention, must be hard. She was great though. Not even the sniff of a whinge. As soon as the last cake-stuffed family member finally left the last party, I took her upstairs to bed, tucked her in and gave her a kiss. She suddenly looked a bit sad.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

She stared at me for a moment or two, considering if she should answer, and then said, “I’m just a bit fed up.”

“Really?” I said, stroking her forehead.

“Uh huh. It’s everybody’s birthday right now. Mine is ALWAYS next year.”

Thankfully, I resisted the urge to say 'thank bloody goodness'.

“It doesn’t matter ,” she said then, turning over and pulling up her covers. “It’s Christmas in a few days; I'll have some presents then.”

And that’s the other problem with three birthdays at the end of November. Just as the pigeons are getting bored of cake, Christmas decends on us. More cake. More cards...

To X, Happy Christmas, from The Jennings'. That’s your lot, I’m afraid, and don't be surprised if it comes by text.

Epilogue: I have just remembered my vow to out-Christmas the most Christmassy of them, as stated, in writing, in my blog post dated Novemer 7th. Bugger. I might have to turn to drink to get through this one...

Appendix: My husband has just told me this post is too grumpy. Apologies. Do feel free to re-read last week's post if you need something jollier! Or hold out for next week, of course. *winks and then goes for a slice of cake*


  1. I feel your pain. One in November. One in December and then CHRISTMAS. I'm not very good at being cheery at the best of times but the so-called festive season have been renamed the feistive weeks in our household. Argggh. Thanks Amanda. Cathy x

  2. Hey Cathy, loving 'the feistive season'! I had to add an appendix to the post because dear hubby told me I sounded far too grumpy! I am, of course, now in a grump with him. Thanks for the comment. xxx