Baking is not on my list of talents. I am a frugal eater and not at all adept in food decorating, so my abilities reach to basic banana cakes and chocolate chip cookies. I love beautiful things, I just can’t seem to make my small, stubby fingers weave those things from my imagination into tangible offerings.
The other day our very loud doorbell rang over a very loud, screaming child. Surprisingly chill, I opened the door to find one of my ministering sisters holding a large piece of her leftover birthday cake. This cake, layered with a chocolate drip over white creamy icing, and decorated with Kinder and Ferrero chocolates, was indeed a welcome sight. We gratefully consumed the confection my sister had carefully made for her own birthday to share with her loved ones.
I am turning 30 this year. I like to joke that I feel old, but that’s not true. This is the best I’ve felt in my life, and I naturally want a cake to reflect the auspiciousness of this age milestone. My ‘thirty, flirty and thriving’ cake.
I immediately had my husband request that our friend makes the cake, just like the one she had shared with us. I had one condition . . . she had to let us pay.
When I was a teenager I babysat a stranger’s children for a whole day, so they could attend a wedding. When the time for payment came, even though I could really use the money, I refused. It was about 10% wanting to impress a boy and 90% because that’s what nice Mormon girls do, right? We serve. Maybe I took too literally the concept of laying up treasures in heaven, and not in the earth.
But when is treasure, or in this case, remuneration, deserved? I’ve asked myself again and again, and I’m not sure if there is a firm line in the sand. I do believe, however, that Mormons aren’t always good at paying for skilled labour. We give so freely, and I fear sometimes we inappropriately expect the same in return.
Thus, we had a hard time convincing our friend to receive money for making my cake. With a (friendly) threat of simply firing her, she finally caved in and let us pay for her skills that neither of us has. It felt right to pay.
Some questions I’m going to ask myself in the future:
- How many hours will this take the person?
- Are there material costs involved?
- In the outside world, do people expect to be paid for this?
- Am I utilising skills that the person has taken considerable effort to gain?
What are your thoughts? What are some other questions we can ask ourselves before asking another member of the LDS church for assistance?