Inspired by Birthday Generosity

Birthday generosity makes me happy. So forgive me for sharing yet more examples of people doing good deeds with their birthdays.

In Lynchburg, West Virginia, a pair of siblings asked friends to bring toy donations to their birthday party. Josie, 7, and Jett, 9, then took the gifts to donate to a local non-profit that helps kids going through the court system — many of the under the age of five. These youngsters have been taken from their homes and had to leave their things behind, so this #bdaygenerosity is certainly appreciated.

Homeless pets were the beneficiaries in Richmond, Virginia, when two boys asked for birthday donations to a pet shelter. Hatcher and Sam asked for gifts they could give to animals in need, and also set up a lemonade stand to raise added funds!

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Adults get in on the action too. A women’s auxiliary in California hosts an annual Birthday Luncheon to collect gifts for the local Children’s Fund serving neglected, abused and abandoned children San Bernardino County. Now it in its 19th year, the luncheon has donated more than 42,000 gifts to the group. In May 2017 alone the group collected 5,417 birthday gifts to give.

Others are inspired to found organizations dedicated year round to the cause of celebrating birthdays. In Charleston, South Carolina, Steffi Green and her husband founded Birthdays for All to celebrate birthdays for children in foster care.

“I never want a kid to look back on their life and be like ‘I never had a birthday,’ ” Green said.

Megan Yunn is similarly determined. Her non-profit Beverly’s Birthday holds about 120 group birthday parties a year in the greater Pittsburgh area for over 2,000 children and guests. The group distributes over 1,300 presents.

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“We all have birthdays, and everyone should know that they are loved, cared for, that they’re noticed and special,” Yunn has said. “Birthdays are joy and hope and smiles. It’s not about lavishness, it’s just about the notion that there are genuinely good people out there and we want to be able to support these families.”

Birthday Cake Gets Family Kicked off Plane

 

In unhappy birthday news, there was predictable social media outrage last month over the news of a couple being kicked off a flight for behavior surrounding their cake. Apparently JetBlue bumped the family en route to Las Vegas to celebrate a 40th from their flight because the proper storage of the birthday cake they were bringing along with them caused a ruckus.

Cameron and Minta Burke of New Jersey were traveling to Sin City to join up with family to celebrate Minta’s 40th. According to news reports, they brought a buttercream cake from a NYC bakery along too.

Only, where to put this birthday yumminess proved a big deal on board the flight. One flight attendant apparently asked them “nicely” to move the cake from one overboard bin to a second one. So Cameron did. Then, he was asked to move the cake underneath the seat in front of him. He did so.

But, then a second flight attendant got involved, and things got more difficult. Cameron told the news that he approached the flight attendants and “said everything was fine,” and was told, “this does not involve you.” When he was told he was being “non-complaint” he apparently asked one attendant if she’d been drinking, “because her behavior was not normal.” He probably regrets that question in retrospect.

Family Birthday Fun?

The video the family shared of the incident, shows them being interviewed by Port Authority police. Oh, and the couple’s children are there, one of them crying throughout all of this.

The icing on the cake, though? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one). Minta is wearing an “It’s My Birthday” tiara throughout.

Now, as big of a fan of birthdays as I am, I don’t believe your special day justifies bad behavior. JetBlue counters this family’s complaints with a statement that the family was agitated and making false accusations about the crew.

Still, it’s difficult not to agree (from outside of the situation) with Cameron’s words on the video: “For a cake? A cake? I moved the cake. It’s a birthday cake.”

This particular birthday cake caused this family to be kicked off the flight, their flight refunded, and their trip rebooked while the rest of the flight had to go through the boarding process again.

That’s a big deal for a birthday cake. Reading it was a regular buttercream cake (which is my least favorite), I offer the following suggestion to those traveling for a birthday surprise in the future — settle for local. Mina’s chosen West Village bakery may be a big deal in NYC, judging by its website, but in Vegas it seems safe there is another bakery available to make the cake. Or just have the specialty cake when you’re back home!

 

 

100th Birthday Wish is to Work

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 12.12.34 PM.pngHere’s something we can all aspire to — loving our job enough that we want to go back for our 100th birthday!

That’s what Bill Hansen of New Jersey did. The centenarian came out of retirement on his 100th birthday to return to Hutchinson Plumbing, Heating and Cooling in Cherry Hill in return for $1.

The company CEO Fred Hutchinson signed a work agreement welcoming the permit coordinator back for a birthday cake, a standing ovation, media coverage, and a complete set of assignments.

Hansen had already retired in his 60s, but got bored and at 66 returned to work at Hutchinson’s company where he worked for another 32 years before retiring again at 97!

I’ve written in the past about all of my reasons not to work on your birthday, but Hansen says he hates retirement. So, for him the better gift is going back to his “second family” and seeing familiar faces and meeting new people.

This is certainly an employee (or retired employee) birthday benefit I didn’t consider in my previous blog suggesting good ways to recognize worker birthdays.

It’s a wish we might all make over our birthday cake (if our office allows it…and we don’t mind spitting on our friends’ dessert) — to enjoy our work and the people we work with enough that we want to return after retirement.

 

4 Tips to Make Forgetting Birthdays Better

My big brother’s birthday is tomorrow. His gift should already have arrived. I am writing about him in this blog. I am clearly aware that the big day is January 28th. He’s my brother. How could I forget?

Only one year I did. Almost. I only remembered that I had not yet called in to wish him “Happy Birthday” as midnight encroached. I was, as you can easily imagine considering the fact that I blog about birthdays, absolutely mortified. Who knows what various work and life timing had interfered with my calling earlier in the day — surely, I meant to. Yet, I’d forgotten. And now it was too late to call…

So, my brother woke up the next day to a flurry of late night communications from me via email and on his work voice mail. When I reached him in person the next day to apologize in earnest he laughed heartily. He’d fully enjoyed my self-flagellation in my several “appalled at myself” messages — as any one would revel in the rare repentance of a sibling.

Thinking about this shameful slip-up years later, it occurred to me that I ought to offer some helpful tips to make forgetting a birthday go better. Learning from experience is part of how we grow, right?

4 Tips to Make Forgetting a Birthday Better

  1. Apologize. Pretending it didn’t happen is not going to make up for the oversight. Instead, be upfront about your mistake and your regrets that you didn’t fully fete the friend, family member, or colleague celebrating his or her special day.
  2. Employ humor. Wander down the card aisles and you’ll see many options for “belated birthday” greetings. You’ll be hard pressed, though, to find one that is sappy about the gaffe. Instead, these cards tend to be hilariously penitent while still reminding the celebrant how much you love and appreciate them.
  3. Get creative. There is actually a thorough wikiHow devoted to this topic. Among its creative suggestions are:
    • make a jigsaw puzzle apology
    • offer I’m sorry coupons
    • develop a scavenger hunt
    • go on the air to apologize (for those of use who have a radio show or the patience to dial and dial again until the radio station takes our call).
  4. Be there in person. Sharing your time with the birthday individual, even after the fact, can quickly turn the tide. After all, if you take the person for coffee (and cake) or a birthday lunch, you’re likely to spend more time together than you might have on the actual day.

In looking online to see what people are saying about this topic, I also came across a lot of hilarious memes that the person whose birthday is forgotten can use. I’ll share those with you in another blog next month….that is, unless I forget.

 

Birthdays are for Sharing, I suppose

 

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Photo credit: Melinda Taber via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

The other day at work I had the opportunity to watch this video of Bronx Zoo gorillas enjoying cupcakes. It is not entirely clear whether it was a birthday. What amused me, though, was seeing the gorillas grabbing handfuls of cupcakes and refusing to share.

This got me thinking about sharing and birthdays. I’ve written in the past about how much I think it would suck to share my birthday with another person I loved. Or even liked. I might not like/love them so much after that. This pretty much sums it up (stupid typo aside):

At the same time, I know I’m not the only one who likes to see what celebrity shares my birthday. Somehow, by being born on the same day as Elizabeth Shue I am that much cooler on my birthday.

Yet, another way of looking at birthdays is what they teach people (who are bigger than me) about sharing. Kids, for instance, have to go to stores and find toys to give to someone else. They then have to actually hand said toys over to another child. (Parting is such un-sweet sorrow).

I thought I would share some other ways to teach about sharing, gleaned from Parents and WebMD:

  • Set a time limit on the sharing to make it more manageable (in a birthday context you may hold the balloon for 60 seconds and then your sister gets it).
  • Share with those in need. Have the child collect items from their closet, cupboard, toy bin to donate to charity.
  • Role play. OK, I was a theatre major. I could probably do this one.
  • Acknowledge positive behaviors. When your child does share notice it and commend him or her on a job well done. Too often we point out the negatives and don’t recognize the good the child does.
  • Set expectations in advance so as to prepare the child to share.
  • Lead by example. Parents. Yeah, yeah, like we don’t hear that one all of the time. Harrumph.

Yes, presumably I learned how to share better while writing that list. But let’s just stay away from my birthday date so we don’t have to find out.

Colorful Rice Krispie Cake

7 Alternative Birthday Cake Ideas

Last week I was virtually salivating over a birthday cake made with Pimm’s and Champagne poured into a mold to form a jiggly Buckingham Palace. Along the same lines a loyal reader sent me a link to CupofJo’s several unique non-cake birthday cake options.

I added some research of my own, and now share some of the more creative recipes I came across.

Crackle! Pop! Celebrate!

Food blogger Not Without Salt shared a recipe for a Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treat Cake with layers of peanut butter chocolate icing. It would make for a crunchy bite of cake, but kiddos would likely love this one.

Rice Krispie Treat Cake

Sprinkle Bakes, a baking and desserts blogger I regularly retweet for #yummybday made the even more attractive version Rice Krispie Treat Sprinkle Cake.

Colorful Rice Krispie Cake

Fruity Festivities

Not Without Salt is also the source for this cake made entirely of fresh fruit. In summer this would be a perfect alternative if the guest of honor eats gluten-free. As a huge fan of watermelon, I’m all over this idea. Ironically, despite the blog title, there is no salt in this recipe!

Tasty Fruit Cake

Birthday for Breakfast.

What better way to start a birthday off than with a Cake Batter Pancake Cake? I am in firm agreement with How Sweet It Is food blogger Jessica’s view that “the world would be a better place if more sprinkles were involved.” Using sprinkles in the cake batter that she cooked up as pancakes, Jessica created a tasty treat that would likely bake much faster too! Still, it could use more frosting!

Cake Batter Birthday Pancake Cake

Brownie Birthday Binge

Not as creative as the first few options, this one still takes the cake (ha ha) for chocolate lovers. No wonder this brownie stacks up as the first playful, alternative cake displayed in Foodnetwork.ca’s slide show.

Brownie Birthday stack

Ice Cream Birthday Dreams

This Have A Yummy Day ice cream wreath recipe involves making the ice cream from scratch. However, the idea alone would be easy enough to replicate with store bought. I’d want to try this one actually, with pieces of cake or brownie on the serving tray too. Oh, and definitely a chocolate sea salt caramel ice cream as the base.

ice cream wreath

Chip in for Cookie Layers

This last one would surely be my son’s favorite. He’s asked for cookie cake the last two birthdays, but this one might be in the running for next February. The Cake Blog’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake layers thin cookies with buttercream between the layers holding this tower of goodness together.

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Any other suggestions you’d share for alternative birthday cakes? I’d love to read about it in the comments section.

Birthdays at Buckingham

 

I know, I know. I probably appear to be quite the monarchist. But there have been so many news stories about the British royals and their June birthdays.

Prince Philip turned 95 on June 10 this year. In the midst of all of the birthday fetes he had to attend alongside his wife the Queen (who gets two birthdays, remember), he took the time to write a much-publicized letter back to an English constituent who’s mother shared his same birthday.

MP John McNally explained he didn’t actually expect an answer: “To be honest I never thought I would receive a response or at best I might get a polite letter from his office,” he told the Daily Mail. “But my mother has always talked about how they share the same birthday and I thought ‘why not.’”

A letter, dated 25 May 2016 and written on Buckingham Palace paper, arrived in his return mail:

“Dear Mr McNally,

I was interested to know that your mother shares the same birthday as I do. I have to say that the older I get, the less I appreciate birthdays. Please give your mother my best wishes.

Yours sincerely. Philip.”

The Prince is reportedly not a fan of birthdays — sort of like Prince last week! Philip refused to have any kind of official celebration himself on June 10 this year. Instead confining his big day to the briefest of mentions during the service at St Paul’s that very same day commemorating his wife’s 90th.

Queen Elizabeth was more in the spirit of celebration when she remarked to the gathering:

“To everyone here today, and to those holding street parties elsewhere, I would like to say thank you for the wonderful support and encouragement that you continue to give to me. I hope these happy celebrations will remind us of the many benefits what come through when people come together for a common purpose, as families, friends or neighbors…I much appreciate the kindness of all your birthday wishes and have been delighted and moved by the many cards and messages I have received.”

No explicit word though on whether the Queen or Prince Philip, who is more renowned for his sense of humor, appreciated the jelly replica of Buckingham Palace, complete with corgis, unveiled at one London celebration of the monarch’s birthday.

Apparently, the wobbly castle created by drinks brand Pimm’s took more than 200 man-hours to make and used 35 litres Pimm’s No 1 Cup and champagne.

I will have to get the recipe for a future #yummybday post. In the meantime, learn more about the fun the Queen enjoyed along with jelly castle.