The Birthday Club

Little Notes

September 28, 2015

September has always meant new beginnings to me. Growing up in New England, there’s nothing like crisp autumn air to signal the promise of a new school year and in my case another year gained.

My birthday even coincided with the first day of school sometimes and in my excitement about new season apples, new teachers were simply accepted as part of the package.

These days, I still welcome September with the same amount of fresh-start enthusiasm, except now every passing birthday has a certain poignancy as it collides with my sons’ new school years. They are now the ones with new teachers, new coaches and new friends.  This autumn,  No. 1 Son enters his second year of university and No. 2 Son embarks on a gap year before starting university next September.  Both are about to venture forth into life with the promise of exciting times ahead.

And for me, acquiring another year may not be as exciting as it once was but it has become significant for other reasons. A time of assessment and reflection, I am grateful for the friends I have made along the way. They remind me of good times past and give me inspiration to brave the future together.

About eight years ago (no one can remember exactly when), a foursome group of my women friends started to celebrate each others’ birthdays with the simple ritual of afternoon tea and cake. It started casually then and it’s really not that much more formal now. About a week or two before a birthday, one of us will send an email to alert the three others. A few rounds later, a date, time and venue at one of our homes is set. And then on the day of, we meet over tea, cake and the opening of presents while we catch up with news of our lives.

The cake design has moved on since my 7th birthday —  homemade lavender and apricot cake decorated with a ring of Verveine leaves from my friend's garden.

Our Birthday Club teas, are in addition to — as opposed to instead of— the other celebrations we might have with family and friends. We will still convene even if it’s a milestone birthday with other grander celebrations planned.  The Birthday Club shines brightest through the in-between milestone years where we want to be remembered without having to do the reminding. It’s these celebrations, in particular, which help to soften the blow of adding another year and make us feel special and spoiled at the same time.

My bounty of presents includes a book,  tea cups and a set of French linen striped  napkins in my favourite colours. My friends know me well.

We sometimes have the odd guest visitor. On one occasion, my brother was in town and I wanted him to meet my friends. On another, we surprised the birthday girl with a friend she hadn’t seen in a long time. And always welcome are the stray children who happen to be around whether they are on a study leave or waiting to go back to university. They have known us since they were very little when we met at the school gates, and it is this continuity which I cherish most.

This year my striped linen napkins, inspired me to paint my "Thank you" notes.

N.B.: This post was originally published on My Contents Have Shifted.

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What a lovely idea Christine and really beautiful presents!


Hi Christine, thank you for the Birthday Club post. May I ask you please is the cake recipe yours or from a cookbook? Would you be able to share it? Thanks, Sian 😀


Thankyou!! Please also thank your friend. I will make it when I return home to Australia 🙂

All the best, sian