The Farm Bleat: I've become too old for a cake with candles

Gray hair, aching joints are a sign that age is more than just a number.

I turned another year older on Monday — adding a plus-one to what was one of those milestone birthdays a year ago.

I don’t really feel older, but that sort of feeling doesn’t happen overnight. I saw a photo of myself on Sunday and wondered when my hair became so gray. I woke up Monday morning to eyes that burned and fingers that ached from a five-day stitching staycation.

Of course, I did more than stitch during my days off from work. I took lots of naps on the couch, cuddled up under my blanket. Rest is important as you get older, after all.

When I was a kid, I so wished I didn’t have a January birthday. It was too cold outside to play, and the weather too unpredictable to plan a birthday party.

Mom and Dad would often reminisce about my fourth birthday, which came in the midst of the “Storm of the Century” — the “Super Bowl” of Blizzards — in 1975. Mom sent Dad into town to get me a doll as the winds began to blow and the snow began to fall, just so I’d have a present to open on my special day.


The blizzard began the day before my birthday, and ended on Jan. 12. I imagine my Dad spent his Jan. 13 birthday pushing snow and digging us out. We lived in the old two-story farmhouse back then, and it was oh-so-cold in the winter.

I don’t recall any other blizzards on my birthday, and the memories of birthday candles and Dad’s deep voice joining in with the family to sing “Happy Birthday” are growing ever distant. Dad would have turned 86 on Thursday. He’s been gone for more than three years now, and I still have his cell phone number programmed in my phone under “Dad.”

On Sunday, Mom and her great-grandkids (Brody, Elsie, Danny and Jonny) sang “Happy Birthday” to me as we enjoyed my mom’s special recipe chocolate birthday cake — a recipe she’s used for family birthdays for as long as I can remember. The made-from-scratch concoction is a dense cake best served chilled with a generous dollop of whipped cream on top — hence the need for a nap afterward.

And so there was cake — no need for it to be ablaze with candles — and family, and a mighty chill in the air outside. I turned another year older, my hair will eventually be gray, and memories will continue to be made.

Life is good, and even in the midst of so much sadness in the world today, there will always be birthdays to celebrate.

Related Topics: BIRTHDAYS
Opinion by Julie Buntjer
Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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