My poor kids are always thrilled to see packages delivered to the house. For some reason, they always think that this, at last, must be the day when some kindly stranger has finally gotten around to sending them a lifetime supply of gumballs, roller skates and fireworks.
And then we open up the box, and guess what? It’s not that day.
Generally, it’s books inside. Stupid, boring, grown-up books, or sometimes something even worse: a replacement flange for the kitchen sink faucet, or a pack of screen protectors; yay. They don’t even make bubble wrap the way they used to, for crying out loud.
A few days ago, we got a huge box in the mail. Oh boy, oh boy! We opened it up, and what was inside? Pans. Four used, dented, spotted cake pans. And I wouldn’t even let the kids put them on their heads or use them for robot parts. No, I insisted that we pack them back away until I was ready to start baking. Because I, Simcha Fisher, am making a wedding cake.
The last time I made a wedding cake, I was named Simcha Prever. In fact, baking a wedding cake (my own) was one of the last things I did while I still had that name. In fact, I used the same cake pans, almost fifteen years ago.
Besides these pans, there is very little left in the way of memorabilia from our wedding. I lost my sapphire engagement ring somewhere in our first apartment, many moves ago. My wedding dress got sold, and my veil became part of someone's Halloween costume, I think. Of the set of china we got as a gift, there is exactly one plate remaining. Someone gave us a set of blue and white dish towels, and as a newly-minted housewife, I used to fold them so precisely and make sure they alternated, blue, white, blue, white, when I stacked them up. Nowadays, it’s a race between me and the kids: I wash, dry, fold, and put away rags, and they make hideous messes so quickly, the rags are all gone before they can even decently be identified as a stack.
We have wedding pictures, of course, showing me with a waistline and my husband with hair. But we don’t take the wedding album out too often, not wanting to ruin the story that some of my kids still believe (that we had a Three Stooges-themed ceremony: “Place the ring up on her finger. . . not that one; the other finger . . . “).
Confession time: I can’t even remember what our vows were. I mean, I remember the general gist of them. Maybe I don’t remember every single little tiny syllable. But basically I remember them, yeah.
Anyway, I’m making this new cake for a new couple, a lovely couple, who seem likely to make each other happy. It’s going to be a nice wedding (because that’s what makes weddings nice: when the bride and groom look happy together) and I’m determined that this is going to be a nice cake. I even bought special equipment: a leveler, a cake lifter, an angled spatula, a special icing tip for making leaves. I ordered non-carnation flowers as decorations, I researched recipes and made a test cake and test icing, and I spent last night practicing basic rosettes with a #16 tip.
I keep trying to remember what I did when I was making my own cake all those years ago. Did I frost it in pieces, and put it together right before the wedding? Did I refrigerate it? Did the frosting melt? What recipe did I use, anyway? How many layers? I can’t remember at all. I know it didn’t look great. How could it? I had no idea what I was doing.
How delicious it is to know that it doesn’t matter. It’s like when we made our vows: we had no idea what we were doing. But we’re certainly working it out over the years. We’re taking the time to look things up, figure it out, plan ahead, learn from the experts, and most of all practice, practice, practice.
For me, opening that box with the old cake pans inside was a wonderful treat. Sorry, kids! No gumballs today. Today, we have something that Mama’s been looking forward to for a long time: peace of mind. Perspective. Security. The knowledge that — meh, maybe this cake will turn out great, and maybe it won’t. I’ll try my best, and if it doesn't turn out the way I'd hoped, there will be more cakes. These things have a way of coming around again.
It’s not the wedding that needs to come out right; it’s the marriage.