Grandpa Gary’s birthday is the day after Christmas. This year, that also happened to be the day of our fancy family dinner.
I set out our fine china – complete with wine and water goblets. The table was lined with the linen tablecloth and cloth napkins we received for our wedding. A peppermint candy-cane lay across each place-setting to mark the season. Martinelli’s sparkling cider was set out and zinfandel red wine was decanted in preparation for the toasts. Jon ordered a Honey Baked Ham. He made garlic mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and croissant biscuits. Aunt Ivy brought a sweet potato dish – made from See’s marshmallows.
I was responsible for dessert.
By now you all know that traditions are very important to me. Which means two things: Yule Log and G.G.’s pumpkin bread. On a whim, after the success of the pumpkin bread at Thanksgiving, I decided to make a pumpkin roll as well. (Many of the celebrants have not yet fully comprehended the fabulousness of Yule Log.) I’d practiced twice before this particular feast, so I felt very confident in the quality of the outcome. Or at least relatively certain that I wouldn’t blow up the Yule Log’s pudding topping.
Keeping with the fine dining theme of the meal, I found nice holiday platters to present my culinary creations. I proudly showed them off to GrammaJ, GrampaTavo and Jon. At that point, Jon brought up the aligning dates of this Christmas feast and Grandpa Gary’s birthday. Perhaps, Jon inquired, I could write “Happy Birthday” on the pumpkin roll with some decorative frosting remaining from a holiday cookie exchange endeavor.
Martha Stewart I am not. But I tried. Very slowly, I squeezed each letter onto the roll. I even allotted for the excess frosting as I drew individual letters.
“Jon,” I called, as I examined the final results. “This doesn’t look quite right.”
He sauntered over from the living room where he’d been chatting with his in-laws, assuring me that it was just fine. As he finished his statement he caught the briefest glimpse of the birthday roll and laughed out loud.
“It looks like I murdered something,” I admitted.
The decorative frosting was red. The frosting on the roll was still warm. And the roll was, well, a roll. Despite my intense focus as I carefully crafted the words, the lettering had begun to drip down the sides of the cake.
Jon returned to the living room chanting “redrum….redrum….”
GrampaTavo proclaimed no one would notice; it’s the thought that counts. GrammaJ was certain it was’t that bad.
Then I entered the living room with the bloody birthday cake. GrammaJ tried, but even she couldn’t keep a straight face. She and Jon joined together in a chorus of Psycho sound effects.
When Grandpa Gary arrived for dinner, Jon pronounced that we had prepared a murder cake in his honor. Everyone agreed it was delicious and would become a staple of all Christmases to come – by the name of Murder Cake.
This was not quite the tradition I was going for.