Thursday night, I was surrounded by the merry and slightly tipsy voices of family friends as they robustly sang me “Happy Birthday,” crystal classes clinking with white and red wine lapping the rims. Around this table, our rosy cheeks and laughter were clear signs that love and cheer were in sheer abundance. As we passed around plates of crisp pita and hummus, handing forkfuls of golden baked ziti across the table, the dinner marked a celebration in my life – cheers to being 21!
Looking back on the last two decades, I realized that most my birthdays have involved some sort of festivity that centers around the family table. There were the countless birthdays where my grandma made my favorite German chocolate cake with walnut rich icing, the year my friends and I sat in a cozy log cabin, sipping hot cocoa with heaping pillows of whipped cream or the time my Dad made juicy pork chops with a tangy cilantro lime marinade. While I was never conscious of food as a main focus, each dish that was placed on the table for a birthday dinner seemed extra special. It was as if the flavors were magnified and my taste buds even more eager to savor each bite.
Honoring the day we arrived on this earth is important and duly deserving of an extra slice of silky cake, a throng of sparkling candles and a bottle of bubbly to toast off the night. In celebrating the incredible opportunity of life itself, isn’t it interesting that we often choose to involve food to create a special atmosphere, one that mirrors our excitement and affection for those we love? Nourishing our bodies with food, while a daily activity, can be a magnanimous gesture and provide the foundation for many wonderful memories.
The beauty of a heartfelt meal is that it doesn’t just have to happen for a birthday celebration; it can occur every weekend if you like! Although some days may seem harder than others, each day is filled with reasons to throw our arms up the air and raise our glass to toast the beauty that surrounds us. So uncork the pinot noir, break out your table linens and start slicing the dill Havarti, you’ve got a reason to celebrate, many reasons.