I've been studying some of my grandparents old photos and memorabilia I found recently. Among them are a stack of letters sent to my Grandfather (my facebook profile pic). The letters go into detail about my Grandmothers everyday life at which time my father was a little younger than the age of my own son. The content of the letters are pretty general, as my grandmother mostly tries to share her day to day occurrences with her distant husband, whom she very clearly loved very deeply. I smile and struggle to choke back the tears as she describes how; last night a mouse was spotted in the kitchen after putting Larry (my dad) to bed. Investigating the intruder she was startled when upon opening the cupboard door it scurried out. Reacting instinctively she swatted at it with a nearby mop, finally smacking it and leaving it stunned. She describes that she didn't have the heart to hit it again, so it ran into my dad's room and under his book case. The letter describes how she finally woke Larry up to enlist what would become my future fathers help in capturing it, only to finally loose him for good back in the pantry. Being resourceful (and sounding a bit proud of herself) she explained that she found the mouse's point of entry in the bottom of the pantry. She shared a bowl of soup with her now wide awake son then attached the tin can lid over the hole, thus, solving the problem. The letter ends with a request by my Grandmother asking that my Grandfather "save up all those hugs and kisses for me, as I'm saving mine for you, I'll expect them upon your return home... I do love you so."
The letters sat unknown to my Father in the bottom of a box hidden away until I found them recently. All neatly dated, in order and tucked away, they make me think of their life, and a time that at first glance seems so different than my own. I found myself thinking nostalgically about what seemed to be a simpler time, with simpler troubles, but the reality is things were just a tough and routine as they are now and probably ever have been. I can't imagine my Grandmother sitting at home alone with my young father, trying to plan her week based on food rations and radio news reports of massive invasions and death tolls in the thousands. Going to the movies where the previews are propaganda news reels urging you to "support our boys" and giving up her stockings so that they can be used aboard some far removed battleship. ( nylon from pantyhose was often used to make bags of gunpowder used in the big guns) The world was a very scary place, and I can't imagine raising my own kids in a world that was aflame with war. (more than ours is) Yet at the time things were surprisingly up beat. Neighbors knew each other, a family sat down to dinner when ever possible together, and the nation as a whole worked united towards a single goal and they did it without a single text message!
I read these letters and it makes me think about my children and the way they will view the world as it was before they arrived. It makes me think about the horrible tragedies and senseless violence that seems to be becoming more and more common these days. The recent events have made us think twice before sending them to school, allowing them to go to the movies, and even to stay home as the computer age has opened yet another door for negativity that never existed before.
I listen to my children as they get excited by a Tv show that's coming on, and I cringe when they say things like "OH BOY< Honey Boo Boo"! I watch the "kid friendly" shows, and most of them scare the hell out of me when you really look at what they say as a whole. Most of the "kids" on TV have no parents to speak of, or if they do the dad is ALWAYS an idiot, who embarrasses them and the mother is always snarky. I find myself living in a world where my kids have a diminishing respect for much of anything and I have an aversion to punish them when they misbehave out of an extreme fear that they may mention that they got swatted to a teacher, followed by social services knocking on my door calling me an unfit parent! Everyday I worry about the choices I've made and the impact it has on my kids.
We seem to live in a culture that celebrates stupidity, violence and ignorance, where the evil doers get all the media coverage, victims are forgotten in general, and the "Jersey Shore" mentality is entertaining. Who made the decision to get us here? Well, we all did, but it's never to late to do something about it!
Being a part of the cake industry has been great even if at times difficult logistically for me in that it has shown me a more peaceful side of humanity. This isn't to say that there hasn't been a fair share of people doing all they can to inject negativity into it at times, but in general, despite the trouble with it from a business aspect, the people I've met and the things I've seen and things I've done because of it are without equal! I cannot imagine my life without the people and the memories that have become a integral part of my life, many of whom I met and know because of cake, or at least because of my association with it. I am thankful for the clients I've had that on occasion teach me something about life I hadn't before considered, the ones that surprise me, and open their hearts to me, making my soul a bit fuller and warmer. I've been many places doing "the cake thing" and I can say that it's been an amazing experience that I am grateful for in many ways. Someday I may yet find a way to make a go of it financially even! ( that's a joke btw) The thing I've learned from my exposure to so many people and so many different experiences is that contrary to what I am led to believe from the media and TV shows, there are really great people all over the place! Somehow we've forgotten that... I feel as though the past experiences of my life, have led me to a new sort of enlightenment in which I can see and appreciate the good solid people of the world. The people that do good because it's good. The people that work because they believe in a days honest labor. The people that love because loving is the right thing to do. I've known all sorts of people, at times I found myself not liking the person I was, or felt I was close to becoming, it is the good people and the love I've been shown by them that has given me new meaning and hope that things can and will get better. I've stood in a room divided by imaginary barriers of language and nationality where one would expect to feel alone, only to find comfort, warmth and friendship. I learned that a smile is universal, and an open heart is recognizable no matter the language. In a way, I have cake to thank for that.
I know people follow my blog because its "cake related" and lately my blogs have had little to do with cake at all... , Maybe it's the romantic in me that wants to see "cake" as something more than something we bake and decorate. In my heart I want it to symobolize more. For me "Cake" is the struggle I've lived through, the loss, the heartache and the triumph. "Cake" is the faces of all the people I've met, places I've seen and things I've managed to do. More so "cake" is the experience and wisdom I've gained from taking part in it, creating something from nothing, creating a smile, a friendship, a celebration, LOVE... LOVE, it's about love and living a life filled with as much of it as I can muster, and forgiving myself when I fall short of it thanks to my many imperfections. I know I have so much to learn and so much yet to be understood, but I believe in Love, these days for me, that's enough.
So, at a risk of contradicting the sentiments expressed so beautifully by my Grandmother, "Gather up all those hugs and kisses and spend 'em like there's no tomorrow"
peace N love
oh and : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTF_wJW7N4g it's worth the time.