Every year there is some kind of treat on that table that really stands out. It could be a tower of cupcakes or a gingerbread haunted house. This year, it was the Great Pumpkin. It was big, round, and covered in creamy orange frosting. The stem was curved and green, and the eyes, nose, and grinning mouth were black icing. It was a beautiful and awful tribute to to holiday overindulgence, and as the music played I whispered inside my head:
"Please don't let my kid win."
I was happy for him. Truly. Now it would be my job to guard and protect The Great Pumpkin: to see it safely home without smearing the icing, and to display it proudly on the big cake plate that usually sits empty on the kitchen counter.
My son and my husband are blessed with one of the greatest gifts that modern life can offer: an indifference to sweets. It's not that they don't like them, they do, but that cake sat on the counter, untouched, inviolate, un-cut all through the evening and all through the day yesterday.
Good heavens, was that cake going to sit on the counter for ever? The cake that was smiling, grinning, leering at me every time I walked by? It seemed to call out to me,
"Come here girlie. Go get that knife. Cut me. Eat me! You know you want to. I'm special, and there's never been another cake like me. Eating me won't count. Colin won me in a game so you have an obligation to show your pride and approval by eating me now!"
I wanted to eat that cake, and I would have, if it hadn't been for the pledge.
I had posted my goal, and a promise not to cheat, on the refrigerator. The penalty for cheating? I would have to pay Colin $100.00. Ok, so now that I read that in black and white I have to wonder if using my son as the food police is such a good idea... I just asked him and he said, "Mom, I love helping you. " That eases my guilt a bit.
Back to last night. I wasn't even in the same room with the cake, but it kept calling me and calling me, until I walked into the kitchen and fell on my knees in front of the horrible grinning orange head. A head so large my husband had to cut off the stem to get to to fit under the glass of the cake plate. I cried out like a cat in labor,
"I waaant caaaake!"
Van rushed in from the family room and said, "If you want cake, have some!" My son rushed in from his bedroom and said, "You owe me a hundred dollars!"
I ran to the hall closet, grabbed my jacket, and rushed out the door saying, "I'm sorry... it's not you guys' fault, it's me. Tippy the dog followed me out into the dusk. The moon was up, and there were just a few pink clouds still hanging in the western sky. The night was quiet and almost warm, and as I walked I thought about how silly it all was. The farther I got from the cake, the more my anger and self pity eased. This time of year I feel like all the world is enjoying candy and cake, and I envy them. Boy do I envy them. By the time I reached the road and Tippy and I turned back toward the house, I knew that my promise to myself (and the hundred dollars) was safe. When I got back to the house, Van had hidden the cake in that mysterious place where he hides foods that put my psyche in a twist.
Turns out I really am still a child at the holidays. I get scared on Halloween, and even though I know I'm old enough to face my fears, feel my feelings, and let them pass through me, sometimes it's better to just run away, and let somebody who loves me hide the cake.
So this holiday season if a giant marshmallow turkey starts leering at you, take a page out of my book. Grab your coat, or your purse, or your keys, and run.
Let someone else hide the turkey.