Friday, November 20, 2009

Pie Before a Pall

Five AM isn’t an hour with which I am well acquainted. The introductions I’ve had with the Crack of Dawn have been brief and often artificially inflated by the specter of travel or adventure. Under normal circumstances, anyone seeking me before, say, six on a go-to-work day, or the more reasonable seven thirty on a work-from-home day, should make a beeline to the master suite in the back of my house and not toward my kitchen at the hub.

If circumstances should find me in the kitchen at that unfamiliar hour, it would be far more likely to find me clinging to a steaming cup of joe like a drowning woman on a life preserver than at the helm of a mixer, as I was one particular holiday-time morning a few years back. On that occasion, I had both my parents and my grandmother under my roof and was scheduled to teach art all day and host a party for upwards of twenty teens and young adults all evening. Instead of taking a reasonable course of action like serving, say Purchased Goods (gasp), I decided on a Traditional Homemade Spread. Hand decorated gingerbread men. Festive Party Punch. And pumpkin pies with hand rolled crust. All of which, needless to say, had be fresh. Very, very fresh.

Which brings me to my 5 AM baking frenzy. Surrounded by spices and the wafting scent of baking crusts I was feeling so on top of my day—so satisfied, so do I dare say, smug? Because, really, if I’m being honest, I was royally Showing Off. I wanted my family to see me as a complete 21st century success: I can work! I can bake! I can decorate cute little gingerbread men with my kids! I can entertain!

Sure, I had to ‘keep moving,” make the most of my time, stay “organized”, and any of a dozen other mantras by which I keep pace. But that was OK, because later that evening I cut those pies into adorable little slivers and passed them around my beautifully decorated home and held my breath as a hush fell over the party and I waited to the satisfied “oohs” and contented “ahs” of my assembled guests.

At that moment, I basked in the glow of Accomplishment—the Gold Medal of the Keep Moving Guild. I had cranked out a day of which I could be proud. I had truly done the “all,” that folks over at the “Do What You Can” Club deemed impossible. Back then, I had no respect for the kind of living the Do-What-You-Canners were hocking. Who could possibly be interested in slow when fast got you so far?

Recent weeks have given me a glimpse into the Do What You Can, Proceed Slowly, “don’t sweat it” Society. During the hours I have spent with my husband over the past few weeks since his injury—which has been most of them—we have done nothing quickly. We’ve stuck to no kind of rigid schedule. We’ve done the things we can, when we can. And what I’ve found is that we have plenty of time—time to talk, to dream, to enjoy little things about each other that we too often miss. We’ve been able to play games, watch movies, and do absolutely nothing other than enjoy each other’s company. And the real shocker? Nothing has fallen apart. The house is still relatively clean. The kids are happy. The bills are paid. And I am more in love with my husband than I have ever been-- an accomplishment way more sweet than any pie I have ever served.

Dishing out my pumpkin pie that December evening, I had no inkling that I was missing out on anything. Intent as I was at “keeping things moving,” it didn’t occur to me that the hush that fell over the room was actually a pall. The fact that the one thing I missed that day was the sweet goodness on which everything hinged eluded me until I shoveled a big bit of pie into my own mouth and realized that in my haste to pop those pies into the oven, I had forgotten the sugar.


Lee the Hot Flash Queen said...

What a great post! It is important to stop and smell the pumpkin pie!

Erin said...

Oh wow! Fabulously written post, I am right there at the party, and with you as you're cranking out everything...

I can sympathize. I confess I take the easy route too often. And I feel like the store-bought stuff tastes better than most of what I would have made on my own!

Jade @ Tasting Grace said...

Whoops! Oh well...worse things have happened, right? My tragedy moment was when I made a beautiful treacle tart (in honor of the release of Harry Potter book 7), pulled it out of the oven, conveniently forgetting the pan had a removable bottom - until the sides fell down, burned my arm, and made me drop the tart SPLAT! on the kitchen floor.

My husband, to this day, contends it was the best floor tart he has ever had. I love that man.

Here's hoping these holidays have no such tragedies for either of us!

Willoughby said...

I feel your pain. I often want to do so many things to make the holidays perfect that I miss out on enjoying most of it. I need to have more realistic expectations for myself.

Raoulysgirl said...

OH NO! This is why my sister and I do holiday baking together...LOL!

If we screw something up, we can at least have a good laugh together!!!

Wonderful post!

Holly said...

I so needed that post today. I spend too much time rushing and fixing, etc. And am feeling that today too.

When my friend was here this weekend she made me sit down a few times and I didn't know what to do with myself, but then realized it was nice. Later at the Healthy Happy Hour another friend commented that "Holly never sits still." I am trying to work on this. I simplified the holiday but complicated everything else.

I LOVE that you said "I am more in love with my husband than I have ever been." SO SWEET!


PS-I am having computer troubles, so I hope to catch up with posts I have missed when all is better! Don't want to miss a thing!

Gropius said...

Beautifully written. I, of course, am domestically disabled and gave up long ago on being otherwise.

Julie Schuler said...

That reminded me of my first Thanksgiving with my husband. I wanted to do the whole big deal, even though it was just the two of us. He helped make the pie. When he asked how much salt, I said, "just a teaspoon, a little in the middle of your hand". That was the saltiest pie ever! It shriveled up as soon as it was done baking! We tried to eat some anyway. His defense was that the middle of his hand was bigger than the middle of my hand.
It's gotten looser, messier, and more fun since then. Yummier, too. I make the pies with my boys now and they are great chefs!

Kathleen said...

What a great post...from your description of encountering way-before-you-should-be-up-o'clock to the lesson in the the end of the story! Fabulous!

I wish I too would slow down and enjoy Life--my husband, my kids, just...Life. But you're right, too often we're chasing that false SuperMom image. Thanks for the reminder of what's really important.

5thsister said...

I love this post!

Several years ago, when the kids were young, we decided to stop the crazy traveling for Thanksgiving and Christmas and, instead, create our own traditions. Our Thanksgiving feast is a simple fare and Christmas morning is such a joy. I don't have to worry about entertaining and we can stay in our jammies all day if we want to (which we often do, playing with our new things!)

5thsister said...

I forgot to mention that one year, when the family came to our home for Thanksgiving my adult niece had a meltdown because (GASP!) I didn't serve a green bean casserole. I don't need the drama.

Bernie said...

Wow! I loved this post. I have been trying to slow down my life and enjoy the little things as well. I have forgotten the sugar in my pumpkin pie!

Great post! You are such an amazing writer.



Julie Schuler said...

@ 5th sister
o yuk! I hate that green bean casserole! Good for you for leaving it out. I like brussels sprouts with prosciutto and garlic for my veggie!

Raoulysgirl said...

I have an award for you! Please stop by my place to pick it up!!!

Sorcerer said...


in life we gotta see the moments as it passes by!!

Thank you for such a fantastic read!

Jen said...

I remember the sugarless pie!! (Of course, it doesn't help that we still talk about it almost every year.. lol).. but you've made enough good pumpkin pies over th years to redeam yourself.

Great post!


i made my cake once - mind you a cake from a BOX - without the eggs. that wasn't so hot either.

found you from who has the thyme.

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