Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lilia and the Dark Chocolate Cake

After a long day at work, I dropped my purse and lunch sack on the kitchen counter. That’s when I saw it. Lying on top of a pile of unopened credit card envelopes, papers to be shredded, and unopened magazines, was a tiny invitation. I opened it to find a photo of the sweet Lilia holding up her index finger with a huge smile on her face. At the bottom was a request to attend her first birthday party. Well, of course I was going to attend. Christy, one of my best friends and Lilia’s mom, and I have been through many life changing events together. We met ages ago on an elementary basketball team and have been a part of each other’s lives ever since. I wouldn’t have it any other way and celebrating Lilia’s first birthday was not something I was going to miss.

The day finally approached for the birthday party and I made the trek up the road to their home. I arrived late, as usual. The house was bustling with what seemed like her entire family. I quietly entered and dropped off my present with the stack of presents that looked as if Santa had been there. I took a walk-about around the house saying my hellos and ended at the table with the food. I normally would go there first, but no one was eating yet, so I took my time.

The table was decorated whimsically with glittery butterflies flanking the cake and flowers adorning the chandelier. The cake was a show stopper. It was beautifully decorated with white icing and different designs on each level. The butterflies and flowers resting on each layer added to the magical nature and a large number one candle sat proudly on top. It was a perfect cake for a little girl.

The cake held my attention until I caught sight of Lilia. She was the cutest little thing dressed in a beautiful white lace dress embroidered with a pink birthday cake and her name on the front. It was adorable and completely fitting for the occasion. She sat on the floor playing only looking up occasionally with a smile on her face.

People milled about the room eating and conversing with one another while watching the kids play. Olivia, with her cute pig tails, bounced about the room. Other babies tottled around, and the bigger kids decorated party hats with stickers. About an hour into the party after all the gifts had been opened, it was time to cut the cake. Lilia was dressed in her “cake” outfit, a green top with a pink polka dot number one and pink ruffled pants. She was placed in her high chair as the family gathered around her. I stood at the back of the crowd, leaning against the post watching the festivities.

The candle was lit as the group sang an off key rendition of Happy Birthday. Lilia hadn’t quite figured out how to blow out the candle so she got a little help from the others. Keeping with tradition, Lilia got her own section of the cake, the entire top tier. It was placed in chunks before her. With her tiny little hand she grabbed a slice twice as large as her hand. She wasted no time taking a huge bite. It was her first introduction to sweets. She took bite after bite, grabbing large handfuls of cake. I recognized the expression on her face. It was sheer delight.

I finally got my own slice. It was dark chocolate and a small piece of heaven. Christy made it herself and I was majorly impressed. It was light as air, but rich in flavor. It was fluffy like a pillow that bounced back and seemed to melt in my mouth. The butter cream icing rimmed the outside and it was just enough to not be too sweet but also didn’t make you feel like you needed more. It was just right. Needless to say, no matter how slowly I ate it, it disappeared all too fast. I had to have another slice. The second time around I added a scoop of Neapolitan ice cream. It was a nice companion to the dark chocolate cake. I savored every last bite. I also tried my best to talk Christy into making cakes for a living. It was probably a little selfish on my part because I wanted to be her cake-taster. She’s not convinced just yet, but I still have hope.

Lilia’s first birthday was a celebration of her life and the family that loves her. The cake played a small part in making her birthday special. She won’t remember it years from now, but I will remember the look on her face as she ate her very first piece of cake.