Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lessons learned from cake and champagne

My friend’s 30th birthday is today, and I imagine she might be celebrating it with some champagne – pink champagne, most likely. But she would just as easily be drinking champagne on a night of no importance, consequence or celebration. Why the heck not, right? Champagne is delicious and she likes it, so ordering it for no special occasion makes perfect sense when you simplify it like that.

It may be her birthday that has me thinking about champagne…which has led me to a story involving cake. The two go oh so well together. But there’s another reason that I will get to, in my own roundabout way.

My Gram passed away just over two years ago after suffering a long time from Alzheimer’s. It is a hard disease not only for the person with it, but for the family and loved ones who take care of that person. And sometimes, as politically incorrect as it may be, you laugh at something that person does or says. Sometimes it’s because you are tired of crying or being upset by it. And sometimes because it is just really, really funny.

Around Christmastime of 2007, a bridal shower was held for my soon-to-be sister-in-law (STBSIL). I was seated at a table with my Gram, sitting across from her. I remember it being a good day because she remembered who I was even though she may have not known what was going on and why we were at this party. But she knew it was a party…and parties always have cake. As is the case with just about any shower I have been to – baby, bridal, and everything in between – it takes about 17 hours to open all the presents. This particular shower had some more “colorful” presents than I have seen at other showers. Basically things one might save for a bachelorette party. I still remember the STBSIL swinging a purple dildo around by a ribbon attached to it and my Gram asking me what that gift was. I think I told her it was some new sort of kitchen appliance. Forgive me, but thank goodness for the Alzheimer’s so she likely never had to remember that image….because I sure wish I could forget it.

Eventually, Gram got tired of all the present opening and asked me when we were going to have cake. “Soon”, I said, “STBSIL has to open all her presents and then I think we are going to have cake.” My Gram turned around and pointed to the sheet cake a few tables away. “It’s right there!” she said. “Yes, I know I know” I replied trying to calm her down. She asked me again about that damn cake maybe three or four more times. She was growing increasingly frustrated by the situation. She picked up a piece of paper and a pen from the table (used earlier for the super fun shower party games that people so enjoy) and wrote CAKE in all caps. My Gram held up her makeshift sign like she was the Norma freaking Rae of desserts. But you know what? I’ll be damned if that didn’t get someone (likely from my family) to say “The hell with this, we aren’t waiting and we are cutting this cake.”

I know it may sound so strange, but that is one of my favorite memories of my Gram. One of her last lessons to me was a really important one – don’t wait for cake.

Don’t wait until a special occasion to have your cake and champagne. Use the good dishes, even if it’s only for a PB&J sandwich. Dress up for work on a day you don’t have any meetings. Get a pedicure in the dead of winter.

Don’t wait for a reason to celebrate….find the reasons to celebrate every day.

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