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Don't Eat the Blue Dots!

This year's cake.

My husband celebrates a milestone birthday this week. As the kids and I prepare to make his favorite cake, I’m reminded of the first birthday cake I baked for him. That cake surfaces any time I light birthday candles to be honest.

Growing up, birthdays in my family were a big deal. Maybe it’s because three out of the five people in my house growing up shared the same birthday. We had birthday parties for many years as children. When we aged out of those big shindigs my mom cooked us our favorite dessert for our birthday. (I often requested a strawberry pie.)

You can understand, now, when I discovered my husband’s family celebrated differently, and it didn’t always involve cake, I was shocked. 

On my husband’s twentieth birthday we’d been dating about six months and three of those I spent in Arizona without him. I was determined to show him my care for him by baking him a birthday cake. These were the days before bakeries with fancy custom cakes on every corner.

I spent my Friday afternoon baking a chocolate cake and smothering it in cream cheese icing. I also bought twenty blue candles. We were eating dinner at my Mamaw’s house (that’s a Southern name for your grandmother). I snuck the cake over to her house and hid it in the kitchen. 

After we finished supper I went to the kitchen and carefully placed all those candles on the cake. Then I began to light them. My Mamaw had matches instead of a lighter. Let me tell you one match will not light twenty candles. I started on the outside row and then used a lit candle to light all the others.


Some of you who have celebrated birthdays with more than a few candles already spotted my mistake. You never start lighting candles from the outside in. By the time I realized this I was already too deep in flames to turn back. So I kept lighting. And that blue candle kept burning. And burning. As it burned the wax dripped all over the beautiful white cream cheese icing. 

I can not remember if I was laughing or mortified when I took that flaming cake into the dining room where my family sang happy birthday to my beloved. He took one look at the cake, grinned, and said, “What are those blue dots?” It’s a good thing he’d already blown out the candles.

He still teases me about those blue dots. It’s one of the many stories we share since we’ve now been together half our lives.

The blue dots are one of the memories of that night. I’m sure Josh and I went out after dinner at my Mamaw’s house. I don’t really remember. I do remember getting home that night. My other grandmother was living with us, a fairly new arrangement. She said offhandedly, “I wish I had some chocolate cake.”

It just so happened I’d brought the leftovers home. I have no idea if she knew I’d made a cake or not. Her health was failing at the time and remembering the joy a little cake brought her brings me happiness even now many years later.

Over our years together, I discovered that this boyfriend who became my husband preferred less sweet treats. His favorite cake, the one we made him this, is an Angel food cake. I text him a picture after I iced it and told him I was too tired put the blue dots on.

He replied, “Until the day I die, that will be my favorite cake.” 


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