The eighth day after Christmas, before they could suspect
I bundled up the…
Eight maids a-milking
Nine ladies dancing
Ten lords a-leaping
Eleven pipers piping
Twelve drummers drumming
(Well, actually, I kept one of the drummers)
And sent them back collect
I wrote my true love we are through love
And I said in so many words
Furthermore your Christmas gifts were for the birds
– The Twelve Days After Christmas, by Frederick Silver
My earliest memories revolve around my grandmother’s dining table. Laughing aunts and uncles and cousins would sit around the table talking as loudly with their hands as they did with their voices. Some nights the Canasta cards were brought out, other nights the game was Pinochle or for us non-cardplayers, Scrabble was the game of choice. Inevitably though, whether there were two people at that table or twelve, my grandmother would announce that she wanted a ‘little something.’
Invariably that ‘little something’ would be dessert.
And more often than not, the dessert would be an Entenmann’s coffeecake. The kind with a crumb topping and pastry cheese filling. That taste, slightly metallic from the foil tray, but always just enough sweetness to temper the strongest of coffees (or the brattiest of little girls) was the taste of my childhood. I remember it as strongly as I do my grandfather’s raisin bread or my grandmother’s meatballs or her recipe for pasta e fagiolli, which, by the way, is nothing like the swill they serve at the Olive Garden.
For Christmas this year, my friend Fran in Massachusetts sent me not one, not two, but three Entenmann’s Cheese-filled Crumb Coffee Cakes. Two immediately went into the freezer, to be saved until I just can’t stand it anymore. The third, we cut into almost immediately. Even my mother, who doesn’t eat carbs (she says), couldn’t resist the siren call of this coffee cake.
You see, they don’t sell it in my part of Texas. Believe me, I’ve looked. And even in California, it was a rare thing to find.
They say you can’t go home again, but sometimes, home can come to you, and when it does, it’s packaged in a white and blue box.