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It was my son’s 12th birthday this past weekend.

It’s always somewhat of a scramble to make plans with his birthday so close after Christmas and New Year’s.  We are always just a bit preoccupied with the holidays and then, boom, it’s his birthday. In early December there is usually about a week or so that we begin to have the, “Your birthday is coming and before we get too busy with the holidays…” talk, but it truly is difficult to get into it with all the other excitement that time of year.

Of course this year was no different. As the last bit of wrapping paper was dumped in the recycle bin and the poinsettia-themed dishes were packed away, I started the conversation again but then planning the New Year’s menu got in the way!

Now, he is much more of a low-key, introverted kid than my 14 year old. He’s just not that into the social scene or his birthday (at least that’s what he tries to lead us to believe…) While my 14 year old has always enjoyed having many friends around and loves the big birthday party (not that we do it every year!) I think the last time my 12 year old had a big birthday party was when he was a toddler and had no say in the matter. Even still my son went back to school in the New Year with the intention of inviting two of his buddies out for some pizza and video game play. But it was too late – both boys already had conflicts on their calendars and couldn’t make it.

He made it out to be no big deal, claiming that he didn’t really care. which led to many attempts on my part to find out if he would like a special meal at home or what dessert he might like – ’cause darn-it! I’m an event planner and he should after all show some interest in parties, right!? –  and after repeated responses of, “Mom, I don’t really care. You and Dad are the only ones who really seem to enjoy my birthday.” I decided to take matters into my own hands. I knew he was a bit disappointed by not having a couple of close friends to celebrate with and I wanted to make it the best I could under the circumstances.

It was a birthday weekend – because that’s just what we do around here. And there was a definite theme – Food. Go figure! In my house! He is my little food lover after all.  (The other one could care less – in fact he just loves frozen, canned and all food that’s been processed. I’m sure it’s just to spite me. Or maybe it’s just his 14 year old way of rebelling. It could be worse!)

So we started the preparations on Friday night and ended the food festivities Sunday evening with this surprise Sundae bar.

My son loves nothing more than going to the fair each fall and noshing on a giant turkey leg. Ever since my husband started playing around with smoking meats on the grill he has been promising our son that they would experiment together with smoking some at home. The turkey legs turned out very tasty, and I will share more about how we did this later in the week, but the cherry on top of the weekend was this surprise sundae bar that I threw together at the last minute – what a fun alternative to plain-Jane birthday cake and ice cream!

I made my favorite brownie recipe – I was going to cut them up and put them on one of my a pretty colorful pedestals but they were still warm (which, honestly, makes the sundaes even better!) and falling apart.

And gathered some toppings.

Then I put out some ice cream…

…and a few finds from the dollar store.

Like these great colorful sundae cups!

And many other fun colorful items!

Kids this age love to see how much sugary goodness they can fit into one bowl. While the older son put every single topping on his sundae, the birthday boy was more judicious. 🙂

It was a huge hit. One of those memory-making moments. I was so touched by just the look on his face – even after all his protestations of ” I don’t really care”, his face lit up the moment he saw the table. The quiet, “Thank you mom.”,  was all I needed to know that it was not so important what I bought for him, but what I gave him, that truly mattered.