Birthday Candles

Yesterday the good people of Serviço Social Nova Jerusalem came to pick up bags of clothes, Christmas decorations, and our freezer. On a holiday no less. I did not think they would get it all in the van and the VW Gol but they did.

As they drove away I wondered why it is that we are not giving them new stuff? Were the items even used in the first place or are they sad things with no life left in them? Somehow, the one new outfit given to the kids at Christmas doesn’t cut it. But then again, what is more important, giving them a playground, milk or new stuff? Maybe Heidi, My SIL’s Virtual Twin, Katpat, and Gamamae can sort that Gordian knot out for me.

There hasn’t been, to me, a satisfactory answer to the birthday candle question. Perhaps I thought I might need waxy gems in a pinch, just in case someone over the age of 13 was eating a birthday cake at our house? We usually celebrate Mr. Understanding’s birthday in the US so that cannot be the reason. When I cleaned out my cake decorating/party junk box, there were 4 new, perfectly good boxes of birthday candles. The burned birthday cake candles went directly to the rubbish bin but I know at least one reader is secretly condemning me for not rebirthing them in China. Another reader is probably secretly condemning me for having saved crappy candles for 3 years (there were a lot of #5 and #7 candles, evidence of the average used birthday candle shelf-life). This is what happens when you share the contents of one’s pantry.

The last person who made me a birthday cake with candles was Martita for my 35th birthday. That was when I lived in Mexico. It was a delicious pumpkin cheesecake. She even used her graham cracker crumbs on me, not to mention the two boxes of candles. She put rosemary sprigs, symbolizing friendship, on the napkins and gave me 5 framed photos she took of Mexican scenes. In the midst of a family crisis (mine), Martita pullled out all the stops for me. There are some kindnesses you just can’t repay.

Yesterday was Martita‘s birthday. Today is her daughter Sarah‘s. They will be riding roller coasters in Mexico City to celebrate. Baby Samuel, born in Brasil, is two today in Canada and Becca is seven in Baltimore today. June 8 is a popular day to be born – Labor Day weekend love the year before?*

My advice to you all this year: throw away all the candles after the parties and take lots of pictures instead. Cleaning out the pantry is painful.

* If I can figure out how to work the blog, I will be adding a birthday calendar for reference purposes so that people know when to plan birthday lunches for their friends or remember to send them a birthday email.



Filed under Birthdays, Life, Moving, Traditions

4 responses to “Birthday Candles

  1. maria

    In my house I know what to do with old birthday candles…..I go direct to that when there is no eletricity in the house due to rain;it hapens a lot on summer in Gramado area d´ont you think so?
    Recycle. ..this is the future.

  2. Zhou Ai Lin

    Got a good laugh out of this very relevant (well, to me at least…) post.

    It was only YESTERDAY that I was rushing out of the house on my way to a friend’s birthday lunch with a box of french pastries in hand when I realized I had forgotten birthday candles! Dios Mio! So I rushed to the little drawer in the bottom of my “antique” Shanghai kitchen cabinet where I keep (and keep and keep) things like cookie cutters, recycled and still chocolate-crusted plastic banners to stick in a cake that say, “Happy Birthday”, as well as common and numbered birthday candles. Now, normally, it would be choc-full-o boxes of candles that I pick up when cruising Target with my shopping list of “hard-to-find-in-China” necessities/nonsense.

    So – it was to my utter SHOCK that when I opened the drawer it was not choc-full-o anything but poorly washed cookie cutters and the above mentioned stupid plastic birthday banner.

    Having just moved and purged myself, apparently in my purging fervor I decided one did not need to move a drawer full of birthday candles from one side of Seasons Villas to the other. Too bad for me.

    However, all was not lost. There at the bottom of the drawer were two pink and white striped chocolate coated and half-burned little candles. “Better than nothing!” I decided and stuffed them in my purse.

    Fast forward to the end of our birthday feast at the swanky Ye Shanghai:

    With the majestic skyline of Shanghai at our backs, we opened the box of lovely french pasteries, and while everyone ohhed and ahhed I dug out the two half burned little candles, wiped the crusty chcocolate frosting from their bases and placed them into the berry and lemon tarts. We sang a rousing rendition of “Zhu Ni Sheng Ri Kuai Le” (I’ll teach you when you get here, Expat Princess), wishes were made and we all dug into our dessert. The birthday was complete.

    The moral of the story: it IS hard to find birthday candles in far off lands, so never throw ALL of them away….

  3. Princess Ai Lin,

    You win the prize for the most satisfactory explanation! Can’t wait to learn the song. Am off to Target to pick up a few boxes of candles right now.

  4. Where did you get that image of birthday candles? I’m looking for an image like that to use in a piece of art work I’m doing for a contest. I need something that I can get permission to publish on. Can you help me? Please email me! Thanks 🙂

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