In the course of the summer, there are weekends a decorator must just put a large red X through to give themselves time to visit, enjoy their family, regroup, or bake cakes for personal reasons. Sometimes these are my favorite times to bake. There are no contracts, no expectations except for the simple expectation that a cake will be made with love.
One of my dearest friends called about 7 months ago to ensure I block off a special weekend for her daughter’s graduation party. As I smiled and crossed out the date on my booking schedule with a big red X I thought about how many years we’ve been friends. We met when my daughter was in Kindergarten and hit it off from the start. She always let her feelings be known, even when they weren’t popular with the crowd, she listened to other people but wouldn’t cave just because it was the right thing to do, and I found out quickly that she was fiercely loyal and loved her family more than anything. One of the great things about our friendship is the fact that we love one another’s husbands too. It makes friendship even greater when everybody gets along.
Dee and I became fast friends and saw one another through some really intense times. She was with me when I decided to marry Jason and I was with her when her dad passed. We know one another’s families, we have celebrated wildly and cried like babies together. We found new uses for duct tape together (ah, Jody’s wedding!!!) and I am quite certain I have spent the night in every room in their house at least once.
My friend Dee loves her kids so intensely she aches for them. She has been to every practice, every game, every fair, and at every event in their lives. She was the mom I wanted to be-even 11 years ago. When I thought of Vanessa graduating this year it was the first time I got choked up thinking about our girls’ graduations. Ness is only a year older than our own daughters and the thought became more daunting as the months passed.
If you aren’t from the north or from a smaller town in general, you just don’t understand what graduation parties are like “back home”. Everyone knows everyone so EVERYONE is there. Friends bring covered dishes to help out, you set up lots of tables, and people take turns playing horseshoes, cornhole, volleyball, and whatever game you can find. There is frequently entertainment-in Vanessa’s case there was a DJ, a hayride and LOTS of whooping and hollering all day and night long! Those are the graduation parties I remember and Nessa’s was terrific-in spite of the rain that loomed overhead all day.
I had decided to make a special graduation cake for Vanessa with her school colors but it needed to be just a little more than that. I made her a stack of fondant covered books in her school colors of blue and gold-go NJSP Bluejays!-topped with a fondant and gumpaste graduation cap. I decided to add an open book that could be signed with edible markers as people arrived at her party. She loved the cake and it was really popular with the guests. We only had a few mishaps when more than once a person tried to “turn the page”. I was actually thrilled that she was so sad to cut her cake!
Vanessa, I would travel to Indiana for destination baking all over again. I am SO proud of all you’ve done! John, you know I love you. Thanks for sharing the bucket without a seatbelt story with Jessie. Please keep the others to yourself! Dee, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you and I know you feel the same. I’m sending you hugs and strength as she gets ready to leave because I need you to be there for me at this time next year. Loretta, sweet Loretta, I’m so sorry I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. If I have one piece of advice for you it’s got to be “STAY AWAY FROM THE GRAPES!”
Congratulations Nessa! Jay and I love you and wish you the very best for an incredible future!