Thursday, April 20, 2006

A Sad Little Lamb story

Easter has come and gone at the Calvetti household once more. No egg dying, no egg hunts, no visits with the Easter bunny. Not my sons. They're 16 and closing in on 20, far too cool for that, though not too cool to get up and find their baskets filled with candy and a "Naughty Pet" from Target.

Nor are they too cool for the annual ritual I've grown to dread, the baking and eating of the lamb cake. I should have known better. I remember my mom grumbling about this same ritual when I was a kid.

A little explanation might be in order about now. As a child, Mom delighted us with a "Little Lamb" cake every Easter. This cake was your basic yellow cake, baked in a special molded pan resulting in a three dimensional sitting lamb. Piled high with buttercream icing, sculpted to look like shearling wool, resting on a bed of green-tinted coconut (which dried up untouched until being tossed with the last of the candy wrappers). Often, pastel colored icing was made into little flowers to adorn the lamb's head. Sounds cute, doesn't it? It is. Unfortunately.

Unfortunately, you say? Yes. Try actually making one of these and you'll understand the agony. Mom would grumble and curse under her breath when she made this thing every year. I didn't really understand it, until in a moment I'd live to regret, I sought out that same baking pan to relive the childhood ritual through the eyes of my young children.

Well! First off, that head is top-heavy! Thank goodness the nice man at Consumer Bakery, where I had to buy the pan, advised me to put a dowel through the top of its head before I started frosting and decorating, in order to keep the head from busting off the shoulders during the pushing and scraping involved. Mom must not have known that tip. Fortunately, I do.

Maybe my good fortune worked to become my misfortune. Since I didn't decapitate my first lamb cake, I couldn't throw in the towel as an inept cake decorator. Nope. In fact, despite a lack of Wilton training, I insisted on making it perfect for my little boys. Why, I don't know, but I did. Mixing small bits of color; green for leaves, blue, pink and yellow for flowers, I'd use the toy decorator tips abandoned quickly in one my of ongoing efforts to raise these boys in a nonsexist manner. They had no interest in delicately turned frosting leaves created by their own hands. No. Their interest lay more in dipping their own hands into said frosting and eating it. Straight up.

I knew they were my sons!

Nonetheless, year after year, I'd press on, creating this little masterpiece, using up the better part of Easter Sunday to make it happen. Many years, our friends Jon and Julie would join us in the evening for the ceremonial cutting of the butt, reserved for my husband. Photos would be taken with the lamb cake and the kids, showing the sameness of the lamb and the changes in my own little lambs each year.

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Circa 1992

A couple years ago, tired of spending the whole afternoon mixing and decorating, cleaning the toy decorator and then presenting the cake, I rebelled. I didn't make the lamb cake. They never said a thing!

I'd won!

So I thought, until the day after Easter my husband plaintively asked, "Why didn't you make the lamb cake?"

Sheepishly--ha-ha!--I pulled out the dusty mold the next year. I'm simplifying my life these days. I made the cake. Since my guys have never really cared about cute pink frosting flowers or carefully iced "fleece," I made the cake, made the frosting and slapped it on. Thick.

This year I made the lamb cake again, following my simple approach. My younger son Taylor did notice it wasn't quite as he remembered.

"Hey, don't you usually use blue M & Ms for his eyes? What's with these raisin eyes?"

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Circa 2006

That's right. He always ate the eyes. Too bad. You guys are nearly grown up now. Go bake your own darn lamb cake!


At 3:55 PM, Anonymous shirley said...

LOL! You are such an awesome teller of your story! LOVE it!

At 8:43 AM, Blogger Endment said...

I'm with Shirley - you are an awesome teller of tales. Family traditions such as these are the things that continue to bring joy as we grow older... When our children were small we always decorated a wintertime gingerbread house andtook it to the convalescent hospital it was an unbelievable project including an all day trip to pick up the decorations but the children recall it nearly every time they get together and I notice they are maintaining the tradition with their children.
Ah- the joys of motherhood:)

At 1:39 PM, Blogger Tracey Odachowski said...

BWAHAHAHA!!!!!!! Omg - that is such a great story! Thanks for 'making' me post! I have such a smile on my face right now!

At 2:08 PM, Anonymous Jill said...

What a great story Gwyn. Don't you hate those labored traditions you start? Our Easter tradition is to dye eggs and then the darn bunny has to get up at the crack of dawn and hide 2-3 dozen eggs for the kids to find. It use to be dh but the past 2 years I have woken up and done the hiding. I'd like one Easter where we all just sleep later than 6am.
(Jill from Scrapvillage)

At 5:36 PM, Anonymous Becca (knittingbec from SV) said...

I've had one of those lamb cakes before... but at someone else's house!

Our Easter tradition is "Brown Bunny". For as long as I can remember, every Easter I get a brown bunny in my basket. When I was about 12 (late bloomer, I guess), I started to put the pieces together and realize that I could never find a big pile of 9 or 10 brown bunnies, so maybe he was the same one??? To test my theory, I cut a tiny piece of a Mickey Mouse band-aid and stuck it to the back of the bunny's bow tie. Brown Bunny disappeared, as all the 'others' had, shortly after Easter. The next year, I checked and the band-aid was still there. Finally, I knew the Easter Bunny's secret!! Last year, my first 'married' Easter, I went to visit my husband who was stationed in South Korea. I unpacked my suitcase and found a stowaway- Brown Bunny! Now we are stationed in Okinawa, Japan. I was a little sad to see that Brown Bunny was not in the package my mom sent us with our Easter baskets, plastic eggs, and foil-wrapped chocolates. I decided not to say anything to my mom. The day before Easter, I decided to go to the post office to check our mail... I got a package. The only thing inside was Brown Bunny!

At 8:54 PM, Anonymous Karen (Yi-Yi) said...

LOL!!! Leave it to kids to spot the missing blue eyes. What a cute cake, though! I think my kids are too young for me to hate any of our traditions, yet, though I always wonder why we color eggs, since they all hate hardboiled eggs. AND I always hate the Easter Bunny for bringing so much candy!

At 3:36 AM, Anonymous Leah said...

Hey, maybe you should bake a lamb cake every day basically forcing the boys to eat lamb cake morning, noon and night and maybe they'll get so sick of lamb cake that they won't want to see it at Easter anymore, ahhhh! It's the perfect plan! >:) *hee hee*

At 6:43 AM, Blogger Reen said...

hahahahahaha!! A wonderful story about your Easter tradition! Thanks for asking for comments and having me read this, it made me smile!!

I hope you turn this fun journaling and these great pictures into a scrapbook page! Great memories here!

At 12:56 PM, Blogger Helena said...

LOL! Love the cake.

Hey, I finished the mural! Come see!


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