My birthday is in early June. When I was growing up, that was the start of watermelon season. Especially since we usually wound up on vacation in Florida over the week of my birthday (which probably contributed to the confusion about the date; we celebrated all week!).
Watermelon was considered a really big treat in our family. Those were the days of the long ones with lots of seeds in them. Dad would slice them in half long ways and then cut each half into four long pieces. There were seven of us in the family at that time (including Mom and Dad), so that meant that there was one extra piece and we took turns getting the extra piece.
I don't exactly know how it came about ~ whether I requested it or whether someone else suggested it ~ but at some point after I turned five we started the tradition of my birthday cake being a watermelon. Dad would slice it in half, Mom would put candles in it and it became the perfect "cake". Since it was my birthday, I got to have the extra piece.
I do recall that on my tenth birthday it was my year to have a party and I chose to have a regular cake instead. I also recall that only two of the fifteen people invited showed up. I went back to family parties and watermelon after that!
The summer I turned seventeen I graduated from high school. It was an odd summer. Dad had just accepted a position as senior pastor in Macon, Georgia. We went to the beach but one sister and one brother had the nerve to have grown up and gotten married, so it was not the usual collection. Somehow I just did not feel "right" the whole time we were there and couldn't quite enter into the spirit of things. The family were concerned about the fact that I was so thin and wasn't eating. A few weeks later I finally went into the doctor and discovered that I was full-blown diabetic. The doctor was so afraid I would slip into a coma that he wouldn't even let me go home to get a nightgown but sent me straight to the hospital.
There were a lot of adjustments that had to be made over the next year(s). I remember the frustration of trying to figure out that crazy diet. At one point I threw the book across the room and screamed "I'm never going to figure this stupid diet out!!!".
In the middle of the frustration, I remember the realization that there was one thing anyway that was not going to have to change. I would not have to change my birthday "cake"!
Years later I shared this story with Mr. Marvelous' parents. They were highly amused and helped us continue the watermelon tradition as long as they lived. The night before Mr. Marvelous and I got married we had the obligatory wedding rehearsal with the obligatory rehearsal dinner. My father-in-law was determined to do things up big and planned a wonderful time at a lovely restaurant in Macon with everyone invited. When the time came to clear away the dishes and bring out the dessert, a waiter came to my side and served me before everyone else.
With a large piece of watermelon!