Sara loved holidays. Even those that weren’t really holidays. Valentine’s Day was a perfect excuse to roll out teacake dough, made with just the right amount of red food coloring to turn it a soft pastel pink. She had heart-shaped cookie cutters in every size from one-bite to mega-heart, plus cupids and arrows. The teacakes rolled out of her old oven by the dozens, bound for room parties at Bankston and Granny’s house and even a few for us.
And boxed Valentines? Not in Sara’s house, no matter how much you begged for the pre-packaged Flintstones or Roy Rogers or Barbie brands. A real Valentine involved doilies and red construction paper and scissors and glue and glitter. It was a down-on-the-kitchen-floor project that didn’t end until every child has a personalized heart, ready to be stuffed into their shoebox on the big day. I never see a doily that I don’t think about those February Sunday afternoons and the scent of fresh-baked cookies and Elmer’s glue.
The Valentine cookies followed me to college, where my dorm friends learned early on to watch my MC mailbox for the little pink slip that meant “package to be picked up.” At Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s, St. Patrick’s Day, or any event that even loosely qualified as a holiday, Sara’s box jammed with appropriate teacakes would land in the post office and I would suddenly have a group of devoted friends trailing me back to Latimer Webb dorm. Sometimes I would find nothing but a sad little pile of pink or green or yellow crumbs in the bottom of the box by the time I cleared them out of Room 218. Sara thought that was hysterical and it simply enlarged her circle of admirers. And more than one of those girls has used “Sara’s Teacakes” in various church or civic club cookbooks through the years. True talent never dies.