I stumbled across an old photograph the other day that made me smile.
The faded black-and-white photo is of five-year-old me looking over my shoulder at my mom as she snaps my picture. I'm in our farm kitchen in Maine, standing barefoot on a wooden stool because I'm too little to reach the counter. It's early morning, and I'm still in my pink gingham nightgown I wore to bed the night before. My Easy-Bake Oven, bedecked in fake knobs and gadgets and colored a hideous tint of turquoise green, is to my left. The deep porcelain sink is to my right. Above the sink, bright winter sunlight streams through a window framed by white cotton curtains embellished with little red cherries along the bottoms.
Today is Christmas Eve, and I'm "baking" my first cake for Daddy.
Daddy was home in October when I got my Betty Crocker Easy-Bake oven for my birthday. But he left for an eight-week deployment at sea the very next day, and I didn't get the chance to bake him something. He's coming home today. And I am determined to make him the best chocolate cake he's ever tasted.
Mom helped me crack the egg and add the water to the packaged mix, and she held the bowl steady as I carefully poured the batter into the miniature cake pan. I watched through the oven's square window as the light bulb "baked" my cake. At first it bubbled. Then it started to rise and turn dark brown. When the timer dinged, I took it from the oven and put it on a rack to cool. Then Mom helped me with the chocolate frosting mix.
By the time we got that thing iced, I had chocolate smears all over my gown and hands and face. The cake was lopsided and a little overdone on the bottom, but I was so proud of what I had made.
That evening, after picking Daddy up from the pier, he sat back in his chair after his first home-cooked meal in two months and admired my masterpiece, which Mom had placed on a pretty plate in the middle of the kitchen table.
"That's the prettiest cake I've ever seen," he said. I sat there with the biggest grin on my face as he ate the entire thing and then rubbed his stomach and said, "Mmmmm... that sure was good!"
Many years later, after I married and had a child of my own, I asked my mom if she remembered that Easy-Bake oven and the cake I made for Dad. She started laughing and told me a secret.
"Honey, your dad was positively green after he ate that thing! He told me later it was awful!"
That's what dads do for their daughters.
Do you have a favorite Christmas memory from your childhood? Leave a comment in the section below!
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