Some traditions are meant to last forever.

Thursday marked my 33rd birthday. For some people, birthdays are a big deal. For me, it's just another day. If I'm scheduled to work, I show up. If I'm off, I avoid making elaborate plans. It's just part of my nature -- I don't like to bring too much attention to myself.

There is one aspect of my birthday that I absolutely love, however -- the Carvel ice cream cake that's shaped like a football.

My parents have gotten it for me annually since I was about 6- or 7-years-old. This year was no different. The three of us celebrated with a low-key dinner at their house on Friday night, followed by the presentation of that familiar oblong-shaped delicacy.

Even after 26 or 27 years, I still grin at the mere sight of it. Baseball is my favorite sport, but baseball cakes aren't exactly easy to come by in January -- especially when I was a little kid. My parents improvised, and the rest has been history.

I could have veered toward something new as I grew up and matured. There are so many fine desserts out there, ranging from understated to grand. Yet every year, I would have the same thing -- and would never complain about it.

Why does a simple, vanilla-and-chocolate ice cream cake with a chocolate crunchy crust and whipped-cream "laces" bring me so much joy? Is it a psychological connection to the innocence of my youth? Is it the deeper meaning behind a special tradition that I've been able to maintain with my parents over the years? Or is it just a damn good treat?

Perhaps it's a combination of those things, coupled with some other reasons that I haven't even considered. But one thing's for certain: whenever I think of my birthday, that cake is the very first thing that comes to mind.

Thanks as always, Mom and Dad.