If ever there was going to be one moment from this week that perfectly captured the magic of childhood it would be this. It’s the moment you remember from your own childhood birthdays, when the lights are turned out, and from behind the kitchen door you hear the rattle of the matchbox and the rip and fizz and flare as each candle is carefully lit. Someone calls out “are you ready” and then a flickering glow starts to come down the hall until finally your cake appears around the corner decked out in tiny dancing flames and one bare wick where a tiny breeze has snuffed it out.
I think there’s something very special about candlelight. It doesn’t have the power or the constancy of flip the switch lighting, but it’s simpler, purer somehow with a sheer magnetism that draws everyone in, pulls us all together into an even tighter knit circle of family gathered to celebrate our girl.
The light ripples across all our faces, but all eyes are turned to the birthday girl, sat up in eager anticipation, while her balloons bob and jostle behind her, smiling with such wholehearted and infectious joy.
And when you grow up you remember that feeling and know that it’s your job to repeat the magic, to create the memories that will ensure that it lives on for another generation, even if it means decorating cakes at midnight the night before or remaking an entire cake because it fell apart coming out of the tin and no amount of buttercream is going to compensate for the fact that half of it is now lying all over the kitchen floor in a sort of lemon scented rubble.
But what you don’t know as a child is that feeling of being the person holding the cake, carefully carrying a creation perhaps decorated with love more than talent, turning the corner and seeing her smile broaden even further and knowing that on this birthday, the first birthday where she’s really seemed to understand and anticipate a birthday, you’ve given her a memory to store away and cherish.