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Are you fed up with birthday cakes, literally and figuratively? Personally, I prefer small sweets to big cakes. I think that they’re best substituted by treats like cookies, cupcakes, pastries, or brownies. I am not alone in this mindset, nor am I alone in the decision that I made at a third grade birthday party where my best friend’s mom baked an enormous orange flavored cake—as dry as it was large—when there wasn’t enough juice left to wash it all down. (I shoved it in the trash upside down on a paper plate in secret).

So if you’re like me, then you know how much better it tastes to bite into something that you can just pick one or two of, not some large, round thing smacked into the middle of a table to be covered in candles, melted wax, and aerated spit droplets. Happy birthday, indeed. Now eat up, everyone! Let’s all enjoy my waxy spit cake in all its nauseating glory.

“Here,” I’d say. “A piece for you and for everyone to share.” To share in my saliva and some hot wax drippings that have since dried over into a hard plastic crust. “Isn’t it delicious?”

Then of course there’s always a massive portion of cake that’s left for me to reluctantly take home and store in my freezer for a month, staring back at me and filling me with empty-caloric guilt every time I go for some ice. Some nights I’m tempted, knowing that the cake’s flavor decays day by day as it’s much-too-sweet iced outer layer is preserved in the cold and unforgiving whir of the icebox.

Eventually, after a month or more, I’ll give in and finally throw the cake into the trash, giving over to a new kind of guilt: food waste guilt.

A guilt that I will feel for the rest of the week as I catch a glimpse of it’s sticky carnage under a used napkin or some foil, flooding my already bothered mind with images of barefoot, homeless children who’d never even had a birthday cake of their own. The guilt will consume me (if only guilt could consume confections instead of souls) until I take the trash out, ending this cosmic dance of self-loathing and guilt, all for a cake that I never wanted in the first place.

I’d go as far to say that we must put an end to birthday cakes, to break an outdated tradition for the sake of food waste, freezer space, and for our sanity. It all starts with us.

So, starting this year, don’t be ashamed!

Serve up some fudge brownies for your best friend’s birthday knowing that you’ve put her anxieties at ease, demolishing the wheel of cakes on which she’s been spinning for decades.

Conjure up a batch of red velvet cupcakes for your lover this year, deliberately saving you both a world of space in your fridge as they can easily be cast aside in a box somewhere, anywhere, really.

Proudly bake some chocolate chip cookies for your sweet mom this year knowing that you’ve saved her from the never-ending cycle of horrors that birthday cakes command: to be eaten now, not when you want a little pick-me-up.

One of the most popular and overused quotes reads as so: Enjoy the little things in life.

Think of this as an omen for the future, for the next time that your co-worker Suzy tells you that it’s Dave’s birthday on Wednesday, and that she was thinking of going to the Giant bakery to buy a sheet cake. Gently place a hand on Suzy’s shoulder and dissuade her from what may very well be the worst decision of her life. Do not pity her, for she knows no better than what she was taught: to serve and eat cake on birthdays.

Instead, point her in the direction of the cookie dough section of the freezer aisle, to the right of the cinnamon buns, and watch as her eyes twinkle in enlightenment.

Mark your calendars for every birthday that you can think of, if you have to. Seize every opportunity that you can to sprinkle the idea of cupcakes into someone’s cake-filled oven of a mind. Do it for the children, who deserve to live a life of sweet little moments, and do it because sometimes, the littlest things make the largest impact.

Anyone else craving snickerdoodles?

Sydney Walters

Copywriter, fiction author and PR professional from D.C. who scribbles in answers on trivia night and shouts at her Playstation. Sips hot tea or coffee from a Studio Ghibli mug. Paces while brainstorming. Conquers hot sauce.

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