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making a cake

The event was highly-anticipated. They were in and out of the kitchen, in and out of doors all day, always crossing through and and always saying "mom, I'm going outside but please tell me when you're going to decorate the cake!" and it drew them all together when finally the moment arrived that I began to create frosting bags and put tips on them. They all gathered around and they watched. They watched me drop food coloring into the white frosting and watched the satisfying way that it mixes in and forms color. They watched me form frosting tubes and gave input on colors and size/shape of tips. They watched as I very non-expertly spread the first layer of color over the crumb layer and they commented how it looked so easy. It seemed like they themselves would even be able to do it!


And I remember that. I remember watching my mom or my Grandma spread the frosting on and it went on so easily that I just thought it had to be possible for me to do it too. But now in my adult life I know - how many hours of experience, and how many hours of practice, and how many times you have to do it wrong first, and how many times I still do it wrong but just occasionally one time it works right, and how many texts I sent to gather information to get this cake how it needed to be, and how much we need other people in order to make things like this happen. And how just occasionally the kitchen is the perfect temperature and the frosting is the perfect texture and stays wet long enough to decorate the cake but dries up just at the right time to be able to create detail that stays. There were all of the eyes, all of the hands, all just gathered around, and leaning in, and watching.


And I know it is a gift, that they know, that I did not land here myself, but that I watched my mom do this, and she learned from her mom, my grandma, and my children know exactly who that is, and know that this comes from her, and that it is an overwhelmingly beautiful thing to be able to trace back and know where those skills come from. That when this cake appears in front of them, it is a labor of love that comes from all of the love around them combined, and that they are part of that. They are part of this passing on.



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