Saturday, December 15, 2012

Reflections on a Batch of Cookies

 
   Some days in our lives make us not want to wake up and face another round. Some days make us beam with incredible joy and graditude. Some days make us reflect on why we are who we are, and force us to acknowledge our own mortality, while simultaneously acknowledging our incredible good fortune.
   Yesterday was that day, when all three of these scenarios came to light.
I don't need to go into detail; by now we've all become aware of the horrible tragedy of December 14th. But what happened to me yesterday...well, I'm sure many people out there can share my story, today, as we sit back and pray, for loss, for thanks and for hope.
   Ahem. To begin...
Work was shitty. No bones about it, I had a bad day. It plain sucked. From the moment I stepped into the kitchen, my previously buyoant Christmas mood turned tail and headed for the South Pole, and despite my finest efforts (i.e. singing Xmas carols in my head, and making faces behind the backs of my coworkers), there was little to zero chance of recovering it. Yes, folks, my cheer had gone on a winter vacay to somewhere with palm trees and daiquiris, whilst I toiled away in freezing Philadephia for ungrateful customers.
    Now, please don't get me wrong - I do love what I do; making good food is my livelihood, my passion, and my creative outlet. There's just those days, when every mise is in the wrong spot, when your teammate has made double of everything in two different places, when every piece of lettuce is wilted the moment the bag opens. Once a domino falls, no recovery - bottom line.
   So, I plowed through, desperately, on the verge of tears, counting the minutes till I could run screaming out the back door and hurl myself into the nearest pint of beer. It was that day.
   Then, I was jolted home by others' phones buzzing from CNN, and all anyone could talk about was a massacre of children. A monster, let loose upon a school very nearly like the one I grew up in. A kindergarten class, kids the same age as my daughter. I grew morose, cried harder. I wanted to call her, but realized I had left my phone at home. At least my shift was done.
 
~
 

   Boarding the train eastbound, eating my cold noodles that really should have been hot, I stared out the window into a black icy wind beating upon a blighted part of town, and prayed. Hard. I thanked the universe for it not being my child, for it not hitting too close to home. I felt overwhelming guilt and selfishness then, for thinking of myself at such a time, but really, what is one to think? What is right or wrong here? Trying to imagine it being me, being her, was so distant and painful at the same time. I sent up some words for those parents, hoping that if there was a heavenly body, He'd understand I meant no ill will or mean nature; I was simply reacting as a mom.
   Slurped the remaining noodles. Tried to close my eyes, but some horrid woman was blabbing to anyone she could get on the phone about her deadbeat ex-husband who's not 'taking' the kids for Christmas. How now she'd have to change her plans because she 'has' to 'have' them. Thought, wow, that is incredibly more selfish than what I was pondering! Felt like a better parent. Stretched my toes.
 
~
 

   When I got home, dinner was hot, thanks to my other half, and he'd made grand plans to make Christmas cutout cookies with Colette. I however, was in no mood to decorate sugar cookies - didn't he know that something horrible happened??
   Incidentally, he did not. So we turned on the news, and sat in tranced disbelief while Brian Williams narrated. My darling child, too young to know what harm guns really do, brushed it off and demanded to make cookies. Husband obliged. I couldn't believe it - how could he just shut it off like that?? Why aren't we poring over this together, as a family???
   (Voiceover: SANTA in head:) "Because, you see Christine, there is more to do as a family. Like inspire joy, celebrate the life we do have, and move on. We cannot be sad forever. We must mourn, we may hurt for a long time, and feel empathy, but to move forward is to triumph."
   Thank you, Santa. I almost forgot.


   Colette ate a lot of raw dough; she called it "taste testing".

I rolled, and we cut and decorated together at the table. Every reindeer got marshmallow eyes and a Rudolph nose, although Colette claimed they all had different names. She made a 'Christmas ladybug' too, from a small rolled ball of dough that escaped her mouth. It was too cute to eat.

   I may make an ornament of it.

Even though it took only a couple hours' time, that cookie session gave me enough gumption to realize that life was too short to feel sorry for myself. Yes, I had a bad day. But you know, other people had it a hell of a lot worse than me. I may not drive a Benz (yet), or have my name above the front door (yet), or even be able to fly south whenever I need to reboot my spirits. But I do have a roof over my head that a hurricane spared, food in my pantry that I was able to buy with my own money, and a healthy child who will be in my arms before she falls to sleep at night.
  I'm pretty freakin' lucky, huh?
The cookies aren't half bad, either.


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