I remember being so excited about this homemade birthday cake. It was 1992, I was still a tad obsessed with The Little Mermaid, and for the first time in a few years I had a birthday cake of my very own. See the little boy in the white shirt? That’s my baby brother, Ryan. He was born 5 days after my fourth birthday and for the rest of our childhood most of our birthday celebrations were combined. But for this particular birthday, I was allowed to invite my best friend and cousins to my Granny and Paw Paw’s house for some homemade birthday cake with some Little Mermaid figurines on top.

Most of my cakes since then have been homemade. There were a few store-bought cakes interspersed, but not many. Because they were so rare, I grew up thinking they were more expensive (right) or better (not always). And so along with wanting my own birthday party, shared with no one else, as a kid I longed for a beautiful store-bought cake. I remember talking mom into buying me one when I was in high school or early college and thinking how it wasn’t nearly as good as it looked when it was all said and done. Lots more money, prettier on the outside, but not nearly as tasty as homemade.

Today, I am taking myself to a local bakery and buying what I know will be a beautiful cake on both the inside and out (it helps that I’ve tried some of their cakes before). I will eat a piece and savor it, happy that another year has passed, that I’m not sick on my birthday this year, and that the future looks bright — brighter than even 28 candles…and much less of a fire hazard.

Edit: This needed some music.

This song still gets me, right in the ticker.

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