By Reba Phelps
It may not be recognized by the USDA as a proper food group but I am firm believer that cake should have a more prominent position on the food pyramid.
Cake really should be considered a super food. Aside from the tastiness, they are proven to be a completely natural mood enhancer. Fitness experts may disagree but we are not seeking their counsel here.
Cakes are traditionally consumed with nearly every celebration known to mankind.
Birthday parties. Weddings. Holidays. Family reunions. Baby showers. Grand Openings. House warming. Anniversaries. All significant cake related gatherings.
If you are celebrating without cake then you are simply not doing it in a proper manner or you were not raised by Southerners. At the risk of sounding harsh, I would almost bet the farm that you will probably have a low crowd if the guests are forewarned that cake will not be present during the party.
Everybody knows that a party without cake is the disastrous equivalent of a river without water.
Every birthday that rolled around in the Procell household meant two things. You were able to choose the flavor of your homemade cake along with the meal that accompanied said cake. While my choice of dinner varied year to year, my flavor of cake never changed.
Strawberry every year without fail.
The older I became I realized that some kids had store bought cake and not homemade for their birthdays. Cakes specially made in a bakery just for them. I then found myself comparing cakes and wondering if these parents were made of money. Surely the store bought cake had to be tastier because they were always decorated so beautifully. Perfect flowers. Perfect square or perfectly round in shape. Legend had it that these cakes actually bore the kid’s individual name neatly printed on top….mainly because we couldn’t read in cursive just yet.
It didn’t take long before these store bought cakes took on a life of their own and I was there every step of the way.
When I was pregnant with my oldest child store bought cake became my go to craving. As luck would have it, my best friend and coworker was expecting as well and we loved to share a small store bought cake every so often. During this time I remember thinking that when this child was born I would always supply the fanciest birthday cake I could find.
And boy did I….
I would start planning the cake months ahead. The first couple of years I used the same baker that baked our wedding cake. It was perfection. It was thoughtful and memorable. I just knew that my toddler was just as impressed as the many guests were in attendance. A cake to remember.
Not long after she was born fondant made its way to the ever growing cake phenomenon. I was all on board for the next birthday cake having a collection of fondant animals, clowns and balloons. It was a perfect circus cake…. that not one child ate. Even the parents scrapped the fondant off. I was so confused. The cake was beautiful.
A few birthdays after this I stayed up all night making cupcakes from scratch (not box Betty Crocker scratch) with homemade cream cheese icing. These cupcakes were meant to wow the taste buds of the First Graders for my daughter’s birthday. I was so excited when I picked her up so I could hear all of the rave reviews from the various six year olds.
When she got in my car I noticed that her cupcake taker was still a little full. I began the interrogation process to find out why there were was more than crumbs left in that container. She quickly and directly told me that the cupcakes were good once they scraped the weird stuff off the top of it. She then began to make sure that I knew never to send those low-grade cupcakes with her again.
I was ecstatic when my second child was born. Another birthday, another cake to plan.
It wasn’t until my oldest daughter was well into her teen years that she sat me down for a serious conversation. She wanted to know why I never took the time to make her birthday cakes. Why did I always subcontract out what would be the most special cake of the year?
Hearing these words truly crushed my heart. In my eyes I always wanted the best cake money could buy. She only wanted the cake that my two hands made.
This was a complete Damascus Road incident for me.
From this point on I merely asked my daughters if they would like a mom made cake or a store bought cake. From that point on they have never chosen a commercial bakery when this questions arises. They prefer the local mom bakery with old pans, imperfect icing and mismatched candles from years past.
One of the basic ingredients of living a less-stress and peaceful life is being content with anything that comes your way. When we compare our lives with what others have we set ourselves up for deep unhappiness and unrest.
Whether the cake is store bought or homemade. Whether the icing is whipped or buttercream…. just being content is a blessing.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” – 1 Timothy 6:6-8