Owning a bakery was the only thing I ever wanted to do. When my old boss retired he offered his little business to me with manageable terms. I had worked there Saturdays and summers, so following college graduation it seemed like the most natural thing in the world to go back for good.
After changing the name to Patty’s Cakes, adding more tables and chairs, and keeping fresh coffee available, I was one busy girl. Before long I had acquired a staff of helpers and an accountant.
At first, Peter, my new CPA was all pin-striped suit and briefcase. He had worked on the books for weeks, sitting in the back booth and munching a few lopsided mistakes right from the oven, before I noticed his wardrobe begin to change. The first thing to go was the tie. Jeans replaced creased trousers, and tees and flannels took over for button-down shirts.
His metamorphosis from pencil pushing bookkeeper to adorable guy with a personality was amazing. The day he explained how my real net worth would be an asset to his pounding heart is when I realized the only line he was feeding me was the bottom one, and the only correct answer was yes and I do.
Things in our life together could not have been sweeter – until the doctor ordered me to bed for a month and my honey had no choice but to take over at the bakery. The holiday season is when we make the most dough, a thing he understands. He is not a cook, but he follows directions pretty well and the staff knows the routine.
Trouble began the first morning. He called me, all stirred up about something.
“Pat, you won’t believe this…Gisele and Kenneth and Ellie had to go home. They have the flu. Where are those reindeer cookie cutters? Does Mrs. Mayor really want a four layer cake shaped like a Christmas tree? Who’s going to deliver 240 cupcakes to the church for Saturday’s dinner for the homeless?”
“Calm down darling husband. One-- in the drawer by the stove. Two-- yes, not only shaped like one but as tall as a wedding cake. Three-- no one needs to deliver. I’ll call Pastor Bob and he will be delighted to stop by and get the goodies.
I didn’t hear another word until late afternoon when I decided to phone my heretofore well-run bakery. A familiar, booming voice answered.
“Patty’s Cakes…how can we sweeten up your Christmas?”
“Pastor Bob? Is that you?”
“Well hey, Patricia. How’re you feeling?”
“Not so hot, knowing I’ve deserted a sinking dessert ship.”
He laughed as if he didn’t have a care in the world. “Everything’s fine, my dear. We’ve been blessed with reinforcements.”
We? I pictured some frenzied activity involving elves and mixing bowls.
With seven days until Christmas Peter stumbled in the door every night as crumbled as yesterday’s cookie, took a shower, and fell into bed too tired to make a comment. He was awake and gone again before sunrise. What a blessing he was.
December 24th the store was scheduled to close at noon. I had permission from the Obstetrician for my mother to drive me over for a brief visit as long as I stayed in a wheelchair. He figured the not knowing was detrimental to my health, as well as to my little developing dumpling.
As we rolled down the sidewalk on the way to Patty’s Cakes, I heard acapella carols. My grinning spouse opened the door with a welcoming flourish.
I couldn’t have been more surprised if the music had been coming from Dopey, Doc, Bashful, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, and Sneezy. Members of the church choir were behind the counter and in the kitchen, working and singing in harmony for all the satisfied customers.
That memory sustains me these days when I’m racing to beat the clock and get those last minute teacakes and colorful sugar cookies made for one of the most important celebrations of the year.
As always, my dear husband is still available to pitch in if necessary, but he much prefers to stay home and play ball with the triplets than to stir up anything to throw in a pan and bake it all up as fast as he can.
That’s okay with me. He’s still sweeter than 50 pounds of sugar or 100 dozen chocolate chip cookies.
It all adds up to the greatest present of all…the bottom line: I’m the baker and he’s my man.
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