Isn’t it funny when the most random of meetings, comments or occurrences can get you thinking about something in a very different way. I recently attended the funeral of the father of a very close friend of mine. A sad occasion you might think and you would be right but by the same token it was also joyful. A real celebration of a life full of song, spoken word and laughter. Afterwards at the hotel where everyone was invited I met various people all with their differing connections to the person we were there to celebrate but one thing struck a chord with me. An ex colleague of the deceased explained that she had made the Christmas cake for him and his wife for forty years. Imagine that? The passing of time through the baking and giving of a cake. The time and care put into each year. The ritual, the tradition, the familiarity, the marking of a festival, the passing of another year. Ah! There’s that time thing again.
I have thought about it ever since, wondering why this particular story has had an effect on me so I decided to write this post and see what came of it. What I see is life ( ok I haven’t turned back to the drink so try to stay with this) in cake form. You know those silly question we ask ‘ if you were a flower what kind of flower would you be?’ or ‘ if you were a car?’ etc. So if I were a cake what kind of cake would I be? Apart from the time, care, thought and ritual of the gift of the cake baking something struck a chord with me in this particular cakes complexity. I don’t mean from a religious point of view but it’s ingredients, what makes it what it is. It’s not just a case of whisking together some flour, eggs and milk it’s ingredients are complex in their own unique form each slowly baking with each other, morphing, invading the others space, blending without overpowering the other all trying to find a way to stick together in the metal casing in which it is being created. Something with such a rich, complex structure does not take a quick 15 minutes on gas mark 6 either. No this cake bakes slowly for a long time. Once finished it comes out rich, complex, untouched, new and it’s aroma and presence fills the air.
Then it is nurtured somewhere safe and warm for it to mature, settle, even find itself and when the time is right it brought back out and decorated in a casing of sweet, sugary layers covering up all the rich tapestry underneath. It is brought out on Christmas Day and everyone exclaims with delight at the frosted sight.
It seems unrecognisable. Where is the rich complex creation? We do it all the time. Cover ourselves up without letting ourselves really breath. Life has a habit of doing that. We put layer upon layer on top of who we really are. Whether these layers are aesthetic, addictions, emotions or other we sometimes do it without even noticing and before long we have lost sight of who we are. I have stripped away one layer- alcohol (maybe even the marzipan layer as for me it was a significant one) and what it is doing s allowing the outer frosting layers to become opaque allowing the complex real me to shine through. Yes we all put on a facade, a casing day to day but for me there is no use trying to live my life in that layer anymore. Using alcohol was my base line protection of myself and from the world seeing who I really was and could be. We can’t be all things to everyone but we can try to be happy with who we are for ourselves.
My name is Laverne and I am a Christmas cake. I can be plain and I can be complex. Sometimes I can feel beaten but I always get back up with a new found zest. I can be fruity and I can be a little nutty ( but that’s not public knowledge 😉). I can be sweet and I can be spicy but I don’t rely on alcohol anymore to enhance these. I can take a while to settle but when I do I’m content. Sometimes I can crumble yet sometimes I can be the one binding everything together.There’s a lot in me; sometimes feel like too much. I am jam packed full of things both good and bad. I have ingredients that chemically work for and against each other. What you see isn’t all that’s there. You need to go deeper to find that. I am finding the courage and with kindness to myself and a steady hand I am cutting a slice.
I am human. X
Ps 431 days
Pps Earl Grey will always be welcome…. Oh and of course cake!