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This post is not at all about books. Consider yourself warned.

My birthday is tomorrow. It’s a big one. And for awhile I’ve been thinking I should do something big. Go back to Paris. Create a bucket list. Do a zip line experience. Throw a big party.

And I didn’t do any of it. I have lots of excuses, but they’re just excuses. With enough planning, faith and creativity I could have made those things happen. I just didn’t.

I decided a week ago that I would do something, though.

I would make a red velvet cake from scratch.

[I used Tayari Jones’ amazing recipe. Wonderful.]

No, this is not a life-shattering moment. It’s not even my first time making a red velvet cake (RVC) from scratch. (And yes, my health-conscious friends, I know it is full of sugar and red dye. It’s not a staple food – I will be back to kale smoothies tomorrow).

But it’s been a long time. And I love RVC.

I’d decided that my birthday would be my own National RVC day. I would have at least one piece of RVC for my birthday.

Usually I’m a little disappointed in the RVC I buy in stores and restaurants. There are a few exceptions.

I didn’t want to be disappointed this year. Though I was really tired today and we started late (I made the cake with my kids), I persevered!

Using Tayari Jones’ recipe, I ended up with a beautiful cake. In spite of …
Not having three cake pans (used a Bundt pan instead)
Putting in the wrong amount of butter (added the last of the butter about 5 steps late)
Thinking I didn’t have vinegar – and finding it at the last minute.

What I remembered as I iced the cake after 9 p.m., I felt silly. I baked a cake for myself even though I wasn’t having a party or even dinner with friends.

I wished so to be close enough geographically to my mother an aunts so I could ask one of them to bake a cake for me. It sounds very selfish. It is.

And that’s what I remember that my great aunts and aunts do and did for each other. So many times I remember hearing one aunt say she’d gone to pick up her cake from my Aunt “L” [not using their full names]. Or being in the house when my mother was baking someone a cake or pie – or two – one for their family and one just for that person.

Baking a cake for someone is such an obvious labor of love. It takes time, a little of your own money, and skill. And the fortitude to create something wonderful that you’ll send out of your house.
As I put the icing on the cake – and I am terrible at icing a cake – I wished I had someone who loved me enough to bake me cake.

The truth is, there are many people who love me that much. I know that.

And the ones who would (and do!) bake me cakes are just too far away.

But I could do it for myself. I love myself that much.

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