For almost 30 years, a tradition at our house has been baking cookies. Hundreds of cookies, as many as 20 varieties that we would arrange on plates for friends and neighbors, school teachers, doctors, mail carrier… you get the idea, Sometimes as many as 50 trays! Locally, across the USA and even to Military across the globe. Each year, We would look at the Calendar in Late October to plan “Cookie Baking Day” and make our list of ingredients, those who would receive trays, and pick the date of Christmas Cookie Palooza, an entire Saturday, devoted to baking every last cookie.
Over the years, the ingredients shopping hadn’t changed much, save for the required new recipe we would try each year and the date, was always early December. You see, we wanted our goodies to get where they were going first, before everyone was too overloaded with sugary delights to possible eat one more. These were the minor expected changes. The kind of changes that go unnoticed really. What’s one more stick of butter, another bag of chocolate chips in the scheme of things such as these, with the evolution of technology? “Hey Siri, add another bag of chocolate chips to the shopping list.”
Some changes easily embraced, the addition of children, who have come from playing in their own dough (never put on gifted plates), to becoming baking assistants and bakers. So many wonderful memories through the years of expanded traditions, adding early breakfast on baking day with a friend, arriving at the house to the warm wonderful smell of mulled cider in the crockpot, a warm oven filled with sugary treats. Many changes though the years were just warm, loving and precious. The things of the Norman Rockwell depicted Christmas.
Some changes were not so easily embraced. decreased stamina to do it all in one day, increased demands of our children’s social lives and activies, crossing off those on our list, no longer in our lives…. crossing people off, who are no longer in our lives… Yes, I said it twice. you see, those on our list, were our precious connections. Those who sat around our table, those who brought the mail,those who minded our home when we were away, those who cared for our animals, and for our children, those who, as we reflect across the year, gave more to us than we could ever repay in our simple gesture of a tray of cookies each December. As much as we loved our tradition, this was always the saddest, most difficult change to make…. crossing people off who are no longer in our lives.
I didn’t bake this year. I just couldn’t. I will miss the smiles of those who looked forward to receiving our cookie trays. I will miss the stories of hiding the “favorites”. I’ll miss the hugs. I’ll miss the connections. Thank God for almost 30 years of family tradition, so precious.
This year, there was no late October preparation. No making the list of ingredients, no adding a new recipe, no picking the date. This year, the changes weren’t simply to be embraced or expected. This year, in October, We were again in Oncology at Duke. On November 17, my partner in all things for the last 30 years, lost her battle with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
I watched her go… I let her go. I sang to her from a song we had picked out, in 1989, jokingly of course because we're young, stupid and invincible. “I let her go. She’s a feather in the wind. She’s gone back to where ever life begins. And for all the love we know, she was only here on loan, in flesh and bone, so let her go.”
Changes are inevitable. Changes are not always easy and some are insurmountable. I’m not writing for sympathy or empathy, but to implore you to pay attention, life is about connections. Be aware. Pray for those connections that you do not understand, each has a purpose. The song I referenced earlier has a verse that says, “our senses have their limits, they fly within a cage. Regretfully, I bow before an empty page”. I sure filled this page, hoping that a small glimpse into a Christmastime tradition, offers something that brings an awareness of connection. Hug each other close in this season of miracles, hope and love. These are your earthly connections to the One.
Rejoice, Celebrate… make a connection… maybe share a simple cookie.