About a month ago, my daughter celebrated her sixth birthday. I woke her up before dawn with a special, small cake just for the two of us. I sang her a whispered wish for the happiest of birthdays and then brought her downstairs to the kitchen, where I made her bake three dozen birthday cupcakes for her party.
I could have easily ordered her some delicately ganached cake, layered with butter-something cream, from the bakery up the street that we all would have loved eating – and completely forgotten about a week later. But I have absolutely no doubt that she will always remember the year we got up before dawn and I taught her how to bake cupcakes.
A few months from now, most of her presents will have faded from her memory – but she’s never going to forget that she can substitute applesauce for oil. By the time she’s 10, she won’t remember half of the kids she invited to her party this year – but she will never unlearn how to crack an egg on the side of a Pyrex. She will always hand-mix the dry parts with the wet parts before she uses the mixer so they don’t fly all over the kitchen again and she will always knows that her mother loves her.
I made my daughter get up before dawn and bake three dozen cupcakes with me because I wanted to give her a gift that she could keep forever. The Littlest Pet Shop remote controlled car was pretty cool, but she’ll never play with it with her own children. She will, however, laugh and giggle (and sweep) in a kitchen with them before the sun comes up, and no matter what happens between now and then – at that moment, her mother will be right there with her.