It’s the most wonderful time of the year, August birthdays: ‘Making Special-work’ at home

Though for many parents ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ may indeed correspond with this popular Staples ad:

While it’s a different story at our house. “The most wonderful time of the year” sometimes means something more like this video below – I and feel like that’s ok too.

Both of my children have their birthdays the last week of August. So each year, while other parents are running around picking up school supplies and thinking about how to squeeze in one final get-away to the summer cottage, I am busy crafting birthday cakes that features the year’s current obsessions, and calling around trying to lure over a birthday possy comprised of those kids who haven’t left town for the that last oh-so-precious week of summer holidays. Not that I am complaining, I really don’t like back to school shopping, and I’ll freely admit that I am always just as sad as the kids are to see summer come to a close.

Additionally, I see the labour of “making a birthday” as something special; a privilege even. The least of a person’s birthday is the gifts they receive, rather it’s the EVENT which was created, made, uniquely for them. To me, crafting a cake for my children, or another loved-one is gift, both for me and to them. It’s an opportunity to reflect on my relationship with them and, culturally speaking, it is the responsibility of making-special their cake; the most iconic symbol of a birthday in Western culture. I have fond memories of imagining just what my cake would look like each year as my birthday approached. Now as a mother, I reminisce on the unique qualities that each of those cakes from my parents possessed, and how as the years have passed those cakes function now as visual ‘place markers’ – noting points of change and maturity – in the vast bank of my memory. Here are two such pictures..



(I’m the one with my hand up in the air, just to be sure that there is no confusion regarding just exactly whose birthday it is here anyway!)

Here is a short slide show of my own little homemade family, and some of our ‘made-special’ by hand, birthday moments (plus a few additional cakes, which I’ve made for some special people whom am privileged to call my friends).

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And these are some of the sweet edibles specially-made this year to mark the August birthdays..

I want to close this post by adding this particular form of feminist ‘making special’ – art – also reminds me of the brilliant, feminist, modern, and very funny work of American photographer Amy Stevens’ work (additionally you can read Q&A with her from the website On-Verge here). I personally own a copy of the photograph below (coincidently created the year my daughter was born in 2006!)

May your homemade moments be joyous!



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Published by Danielle Hogan

Visual artist, writer, curator, educator

One thought on “It’s the most wonderful time of the year, August birthdays: ‘Making Special-work’ at home

  1. What a trip down Memory Lane with those cakes, one of my favs being the Lobster. Every year you challenge yourself and your children challenge YOU with how they want their birthday cakes made. Last year’s ‘Mona Lisa’ for Mikaya was unique!

    All from the little girl whose Grade 3 teacher told me, “she sees things others don’t see when drawing”. I made sure you had lots of paper and markers from then on💓.
    -Mum (who always has something to say😇)

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