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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

Bake a Cake, Win a Turkey, or Starve!

Thanksgiving was just around the corner, years ago, when my sons were 8 and 9.  I worried about Thanksgiving, coming and going, without a turkey.  It was going to be a pretty grim Thanksgiving; I was eyeballing chickens and wondering how fooled the boys would be.

The boys participated in the Boy Scouts Bake Sale the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The prize was a turkey dinner, complete with potatoes, gravy mix, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie.  With $6.00 to my name, I knew this was my only chance.  That, or we'd have to settle for chicken.
The scouts were supposed to make <b>their own</b> cake. Home made by the boys. My mind slithered back to the soap box derby earlier that year, where the boys were supposed to make a screaming racing car out of a block of wood, <b>*by*themselves*</b> There was a family at the bake sale that evening - affluent, intelligent, and beautiful parents with equally beautiful twin boys, age 9.  The twins showed up at the derby with a cherry-red, cherried-out, speed demon race car that won hands down! My son showed up with a hand carved by him (with a little inadequate help from me), lemon colored (for a reason) obviously home-made car that wouldn't even roll an inch without help.
Now my mind came back to the night before Thanksgiving, and there on the table of 20 cakes was the twins' cake, stunning in its beauty, <i>of course</i>, an absolutely beautiful beehive cake with yellow and white striped icing, and little furry bees on toothpicks "hovering" over the beehive, every detail finely etched as if it were created by some elite French chef. And our cake, Mr. Happy Face, which was bumpy and wavy, black frosting smeared into a crude half circle with a crooked little smile and two globs for eyes – the saddest cake I have ever seen.  (But <i>hand-made</i> by my son!)
I grumbled to myself. I had decided I was going to have to buy the cake back for $2.00, leaving me $4.00. I could still get that damned chicken.
It was getting darned close to disaster time in my family as our misshapen cake, made totally by my son (did I say that already?), was sitting forlorn and lonely as all the other cakes were being raffled off – it was down to the beehive cake or the happy face cake.
Bee Family bought my cake AND theirs! 
I felt a strange twisting in my gut – I was bitter and angry and jealous and peeved and crabby. They could have bought all 20 cakes! And of course, Bee Family won the turkey dinner. It was a test for me to practice sweetness in the face of total disaster.  Now, I had no turkey dinner.  And I had no cake!
I told myself that this was a good thing. I still had SIX dollars to buy my "chicken" dinner. And spare change to get two ice cream cones for two pretty sad little boys.
We got to our car and I was loading the kids in, when Mr. Bee came up to me with this HUGE box, the hump of a gigantic turkey peering over the edge; potatoes, stuffing, Pumpkin Pie, the WORKS. "We've already got our turkey – this would just go to waste – would you mind taking it off our hands?"
Well, I tell ya, I could hardly talk to him as I choked up and teared up and tried to stuff all the guilt I was feeling for, well, for feeling cheated, and poor, and pathetic!
There is always something to be thankful for.  If you find yourself in a downward spiral, something will come along to lift you out of that hole.  I am ever thankful for this family's gift to my family.  
May I be able to pay it forward in every moment where I can pass along a kindness or a gentle touch.  Hoping everyone finds abundant reasons for being thankful.

Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.