My Mother was a fabulous baker. In an attempt to keep her here with us, to keep her lovely visions of Christmas alive, I have stepped into her apron and kitchen, dug through her massive collection of recipes and wielded her wooden spoons.
To almost no avail.
The spicy rocks are mud pies. The gingerbread bars are under done. The stollen is a complete disaster, with its 6 hour intensive effort and all 5 loaves in the trash. The singular saving grace are the thumbprints, as yet unfrosted because that part makes me nervous.
There have been tears and laughter and texting with a culinarily-superior cousin for advice. There have been lessons learned; do not over blend the cookie dough, no 2 ovens are the same, yeast is ruined if dissolved in water above 110 degrees. And my love for raw batter has remained unchanged since childhood, yet my body can no longer process such gluttonous intake.
There may be the requested rum balls still to come. They require no oven, so I cling to slim hope they pass muster. Aside from them, I am done. Spare time has run out and I have had enough success at failure for one season.
The past is truly the past and the sweetness of memories will have to do. How lucky am I to have so many of them with a Mother who loved to bake.
what if, despite the season of light and joy, you feel such sorrow and grief?
freely feel the sorrow, the grief.
pray in whatever manner you do.
know your prayer makes a difference.
channel your grief to help another in need; there are so many in need.
if your grief is for people and circumstances afar, make a difference for some one close.
bake and cook with more soul than ever.
visit your elderly neighbor.
call, even if it's inconvenient.
make a shelter for feral cats.
donate money where ever you feel compelled.
give no advice, just listen.
make more time for those you love.
to act, right where you are, is to keep goodness alive,
is to stave off your own helplessness,
is to keep lit the candle of hope.
yesterday afternoon i heard on the radio of a christmas concert. it started at 4pm. it was a concert my mother and i had hoped to attend. with no thought to anything else, i got dressed, put on her ring, spritzed her perfume over my head and went.
arriving at the church, i scanned the seating options and decided immediately on a very small pew tucked against the far right wall. i simply wished to be alone and inconspicuous while listening. the church filled, 2 ladies sat behind me and every one else chose to sit in the center sections.
this was the concert of the chamber choir, vocalis. a choir committed to performing a cappella music of all eras. i had never heard them before. as the choir filed in, they walked up the 2 outermost aisles. they did not, however, take the stage. they stayed in the aisles and turned to face the center sections. the end of the choir line stopped at my little pew, with a petite brunette facing away from me.
the director suddenly raised his arms and the men began to sing what i instantly recognized as chant music. 11th century plainchant to be precise. immediately, my heart felt squeezed. i have listened to chant via mechanical means for years and years, never in person. certainly, never up close. and then, then, the petite brunette opened her mouth and the sweetest soprano sounds flowed out of her and without warning, i burst into tears.
i found i could not stop for the entire song. and the horror of only one crumpled tissue in my purse. eventually, the choir made it to the stage and i managed to dry my face, hoping i was still inconspicuous. then, they sang "silent night", my mother's favorite song, and my cheeks were wet again.
after intermission, the choir filed in through the altar doorway. thank goodness. but no. a few songs in, and with not a corner of the lone tissue to spare, once again they filed down the aisle. once again the petite brunette turned her back to me and pierced me with her voice. my tears fell to my lap. one of the men in the choir was watching me. alone and inconspicuous was done.
i have known that music has the power to rearrange our very cells, to change our vibration and to heal. i believe a collective of human voices, singing certain notes, can alter lives for the good. now, not only do i believe, i know. because many hours later i can still feel the effects within me of the collective songs they sung. it feels uncomfortable, yet nothing short of grace bestowed.
with her ring on my hand and the songs in my heart, the next phase of my healing has begun.
Tea is a daily repast for me. Even in the height of summer. But it takes on an urgent need as cold weather draws down and the holidays gear up. My favorite teas, bar none, are hand crafted organics from Bellocq.
Never mind that I'm related to 2 of the geniuses behind this savvy company, I would worship these teas regardless.