I say this every year, but that's just because it is always true. First is Easter, then is Christmas, then is ... my birthday!
Some people ignore their birthdays or don't want much fuss made. Not me. Everyone in the household knows it too. (To be fair, they all regard their birthdays to be the third most important day of the year.)
And I must say that this year is atypical because I keep forgetting it is my birthday, only to have friends and wellwishers surprise me with birthday wishes. What could be nicer than that?
You notice that only Jesus trumps this day for me ... so then imagine the place He holds to overcome a lifetime of "most important day of the year" before I became Christian.
Hannah showed the proper spirit several years ago when she was filling out a job application on Sunday and asked me what the date was. Then she answered her own question with, "Oh, wait. It must be the 22nd because I know Wednesday is the 25th." Yep, just like Christmas. All other dates are figured around this one.
No cake this year ... or Strawberry Tart as I made a couple of years ago, not even Tiramisu as last year (which was tempting), but Chocolate Pie which for struck me a few days ago as just the thing. I saw an interesting technique in Cooking Light, of all places, where you combine 3 ounces of melted chocolate with the chocolate crumbs for the crust and then freeze it. The logic is that it holds together better and (PLUS!) is more chocolatey. Rose is going to make it for me ... with real milk, not fat-free, as per their recipe.
Oh, and real whipped cream. Not that hydrogenated, ersatz fat-free Cool Whip they are calling for either. It IS a birthday, after all! And real whipped cream is so simple ... a little heavy cream, a bowl, a whisk, and a little powdered sugar. (Just because I love to share ... did you know that if you use powdered sugar in whipped cream that the cornstarch in it stabilizes the cream? So go ahead and spread it on that chocolate pie ahead of time if need be. It'll work.)
Also I love the fact that this is also St. (Padre) Pio's birthday. I still remember the sense of joy and light-heartedness that I received while reading a biography of him. It was a photo of him with his head thrown back laughing that first made me notice him. I thought, "Now there is someone I could talk to..."
While praying before a cross, he received the stigmata on 20 September 1918, the first priest ever to be so blessed. As word spread, especially after American soldiers brought home stories of Padre Pio following WWII, the priest himself became a point of pilgrimage for both the pious and the curious. He would hear confessions by the hour, reportedly able to read the consciences of those who held back. Reportedly able to bilocate, levitate, and heal by touch. Founded the House for the Relief of Suffering in 1956, a hospital that serves 60,000 a year. In the 1920's he started a series of prayer groups that continue today with over 400,000 members worldwide.And it is the Venerable Bede's saint day which is also very cool. You will never read a better death than that of the Venerable Bede.
On the Tuesday before Ascension Day he was decidedly worse : a swelling appeared in his feet. Nevertheless he continued to dictate cheerfully, begging his scribe to write quickly, for he did not know how long he might last, or when it might please his Maker to take him. That night he lay awake, giving thanks alway. The next morning he urged the
brethren to finish writing what they had begun, and when that was done, at nine o'clock, they walked in procession with the relics of the Saints the origin of our "perambulation day," according to the custom of the time. One stayed with him while the others were thus engaged, and after a time reminded him that there was still a chapter to finish, would it weary him to be consulted about it ? " Get out your pen and ink," was Bede's reply, " and write fast, it is no trouble to me."
Even on the day of his death (the vigil of the Ascension, 735) the saint was still busy dictating a translation of the Gospel of St. John. In the evening the boy Wilbert, who was writing it, said to him: "There is still one sentence, dear master, which is not written down." And when this had been supplied, and the boy had told him it was finished, "Thou hast spoken truth," Bede answered, "it is finished. Take my head in thy hands for it much delights me to sit opposite any holy place where I used to pray, that so sitting I may call upon my Father." And thus upon the floor of his cell singing, "Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost" and the rest, he peacefully breathed his last breath.