While in the process of the tedious job of stripping wallpaper and preparing to paint my daughter’s childhood bedroom, I have found my mind wandering. It’s funny, the random things we will suddenly remember when we’re engaged in something repetitive and boring. The memory that came to me yesterday was the memory of a lesson in graciousness.
I made a cake for my friend’s mother’s birthday. I was a teenager with no money, and the ingredients were readily available in my own mother’s kitchen. I decided on the same dark, moist cocoa based cake with cream cheese frosting that my grandma made for birthdays in my family.
The birthday mom seemed to be genuinely touched that I had not only remembered, but also had taken the time to bake for her. My friend’s older sister was quick to chime in, telling me that her mother got sick when she ate chocolate. Even though my intentions had been good, I had obviously not considered the possibility of food allergies. I just went with what I knew. I immediately wished I had opted for vanilla.
“First of all, it’s not your cake.” Mom said to the sister. “Second, YOU didn’t even think to bake a cake for me, so maybe that’s why you’re so quick to criticize the person who did.” We lit the candles, she made a wish and blew them out, and we ate the cake. I don’t know if she regretted her decision to have “just a small piece” later or not. What I do know is that she made, through her example, a lifelong impression on the meaning of manners, gratitude and kindness on a gawky, well-intentioned teenaged girl.