Our cakes were homemade.  Made of flour, baking soda, eggs, margarine and decorated with egg-beaten frosting, dyed with food coloring, sandwiching a thick coat of marmalade in between two rounded layers of bread.

The process was long, but it was always well worth the wait.  We didn’t even realize we could purchase already-made birthday cakes at the grocery store – at least I didn’t – until my mother stopped baking homemade cakes for us on our birthdays, or even just because she felt like it.

We took them for granted.  We never appreciated how much time and dedication it took her to make one of those pastelitos.

Instead we’d just grab a seat, wait for the candles to come on, blow them out, and gorge every last bite of those delicious concoctions as soon as they were ready.  In truth, I think she preferred it that way.  That in some way her pasteles hechos a mano were more gift than any silly toys or parties.

We didn’t need them – there wouldn’t have been enough cake to go around anyway!

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