Rituals, traditions, customs, there is something very special about them to me. Since so many things in life are unexpected, I’ve always appreciated the few things you know to be consistent. I find at least some predictability comforting.
As long as I can remember, December was the time to bake Christmas treats. When we were young, my siblings and I would eat the batter and dance around the kitchen while making a mess (sorry, Mom). In addition to our goodies, I always looked forward to the baskets, tins, and cakes, which seemed to magically appear at our house from family and friends. There were some deliveries that I especially looked forward to because they had my seasonal favorites.
When I moved to Chicago, I brought the tradition with me (I hadn’t realized that it wasn’t a custom for everyone). A neighbor recently told me that the first year I delivered cookies to her house, she laughed because I was new to the neighborhood. It was obvious to her that I hadn’t figured out how things worked in my new community. Apparently no one knocks on a stranger’s door with baked treats… Then after receiving cookies year after year she too started to look forward to them.
Once my son and I brought a tray of cookies to a Librarian who had been helpful to him. Her eyes glazed over as she said, “you brought me cookies” and repeated it twice in a creepy voice. It reminded me of the Bundt cake scene from the “Stepford Wives” movie.
Though I have not made the following into an annual tradition, my family has decided to make it their ritual to remind me about it regularly: One year I decided to make a Gingerbread House. It turned out nice but it just seemed flat, boring and incomplete. To make the first creation come alive, I subsequently built a Church, Condo buildings, street signs, low-income housing, etc. I basically baked, designed and built until I ran out of room on the dining room table and people were concerned about my sanity (I’m not sure which one happened first).
Last month was so busy I didn’t have a chance to buy 5 pounds of butter, 10 pounds of flour, etc… and of course there were no cookies! Although it’s a lot of work, it’s more than just a pile of sweets. It’s an opportunity to say “thank you for all that you do” or “I think enough of you to share my chocolate” and surprise someone. Then I realized in lieu of a platter I could telepathically send messages of cheer and positive mojo…and / or I could just write about it in this blog.
I wish you a 2013 overflowing with opportunities and happiness.