My 5 year old wanted some LEGOs, a stuffed animal puppy, and a dump truck. Easy enough. What that child lacked in lavishness, my 9 year old made up for with his extravagance. He was holding out for 2 new game consoles, a laptop, and a TV for his room. (Dream on, kiddo.) After thinking for a bit my daughter returned with a few ideas: some paper dolls, a Lalaloopsy, and an Easy Bake Oven.
The Easy Bake Oven and I go way back to the early 1980s, when it resembled an oversized, plastic microwave operated by tanning bed light bulbs (or something. I’m not an electrician). Anyway, after mixing up some powder from an envelope with water and oil, you’d pour it into pans the size of tea saucers and slide them one at a time into the side of the thing, a la pizza oven.
After a few minutes the bell would ring and you’d have to get your mom to come help you retrieve the cakes. They’d cool and after a while you could squeeze icing (from an envelope, of course) over the cakes, and serve to your family for dessert. Granted, everyone only got one bite, but that’s beside the point.
I’ll be honest: the Easy Bake Oven was, for me, a huge disappointment. The cakes tasted like kitchen towels and since the ingredients came from envelopes we were always running out. In my mind, the Easy Bake Oven would give me independence. Maturity. Kitchen credentials. In reality, though, my mom took the “adult supervision required” thing seriously, and before long she deflected my requests to play with it.
The whole thing was a major let-down.
When my daughter said that she wanted one for Christmas, my first reaction was to sigh deeply, reminded of how the mother-daughter tables had been turned. Now I was the one dreading getting that glorified microwave down from the shelf.
Occasionally I’d check in with my daughter to see if the Easy Bake Oven was still high on her list. It was. I even bought her a set of real (but child-sized) baking tools with the thought that if we were going to be spending time in the kitchen, we might as well do the real thing.
The time came when both my sons’ Christmas gifts had been purchased and my daughter still didn’t have a present from “Santa.”
Something happened, though, when a little neighbor friend came over to play. She and my daughter were talking about the upcoming holiday and what they hoped they’d find under the tree. My daughter was so sure that she was getting an Easy Bake Oven, and in my mind I fast-forwarded to Christmas morning when she’d open a gift only to find a miniature rolling pin. She’d look at me with an expression that said, “Who am I? Laura Ingalls?”
That day I sucked it up and bought the Easy Bake. Color me surprised when I saw that the design is totally updated. (No more light bulbs!) I now foresee many hours spent providing the required adult supervision to yield tiny cardboard-tasting mini-cakes but you know what? That’s okay.
This is, after all, what Christmas is all about: looking back. Looking forward. Spending time together, making memories. Tanning bed lightbulbs optional.
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