Photo: Looking at my little bears who are looking at little bears… so meta…
There was bread baked today, Dear Reader.
It is a simple thought, but it is a comforting one for me. Not just because my kitchen smells of yeast, butter and eggs, but because there is powerful comfort in the knowing that it happened. People woke up this morning and used their hands to bake the bread. They did it because they knew someone would want it or need it. Just as they knew the sun would rise sometime during the process (we bread bakers are notorious early birds), they also knew that a mouth needed to be fed, that there was a stomach yearning for the warm and the yeasty. So they got up and they baked bread.
I’m telling you this because it’s been on my mind all week. Every day, I’ve been in front of a beloved person and heard “What’s wrong with the world right now?” or some other variation of “what is the world coming to?”
It’s an easy question to ask, isn’t it? This holiday season has been full of bad news, high anxiety and acute stress. Legitimate fears about our safety have given rise to illegitimate fear mongering, the continued rise feckless and cowardly carnival barkers, the subjugation and scapegoating of entire groups of people and the ultimate breakdown of common sense. Outside of these, we’ve seen continued miscarriage of justice, the hijackings of important conversations, not to mention the many little acts of senselessness that dot the days as people give in to the stress of their lives. The sense of our common life as members of this precious republic of mine seems to be in disarray. It’s enough to make the reasonable person have a moment of doubt, a moment of panic. Believe me, I’ve had my own.
But to each of my friends, as I bore witness to their moment of panic, I said with a smile: “Every generation before us thought that they were living in the end times. Yet they continued on and we’re still here. You left your house today.”
I’ll know that the world is ending because the smell of baking bead will cease to exist. The bakers won’t rise to greet the sun with beautifully shaped creations, a service rendered to humanity every single day since someone figured out how to do it. I’m not saying that bread makes the world go ’round. I’m just saying that as long as the Earth is spinning, a loaf will be in an oven somewhere.
I hope that this doesn’t come off as belittling. This is a world that is full of horrors. The rabbit hole seems so deep and so wide sometimes that it feels overwhelming. The chasms of our own individual lives are sometimes insurmountable in and of themselves, let alone those larger challenges that are worthy of the attention of entire nations. I find comfort, though, as a woman who loves history, in the knowledge that so many of our history books make note of the times/people who thought in all sincerity that the world was about to end. The apocalypse is always imminent, yet it never seems to come. The sun inevitably rises on the day of reckoning, then it sets, then it rises the day after. And ever after.
And bread is baked.
Maybe it’s the smell of baking bread that keeps it away.
The holidays are supposed to be a time to gather, a time to give hugs and kisses, a time for gratitude. The sun is setting on this year and it will rise bright and early on the 1st of the next. We do the things we need to in order to prepare. We extend our greetings to those we love, we give to our neighbors who are seen and yet are so unseen, we wrap our arms around the precious and beloved. Some of us will bake bread. Others will receive it and be thankful for it. Seven loaves of bread have left this house this week. Some have traveled far from Massachusetts, while others are still as close as just across our still-green yard. Trinkets and gifts will travel out of here and head to places as far as California. A few gifts have come to use already, each with their own tales of travel, one that has traveled three generations and half a country to get to me. I’m honored and grateful, so I honor in return.
Who do you honor today, Dear Reader? Is there a gift on the way that you just can’t wait to give? Where do you find comfort on these cloudy days in what should be our brightest season? What is the one thing that you know to be true, that anchoring thought that reminds you that everything will be ok?
On this Friday before Christmas, I wish you joy and good weather. I wish you a generous heart, a warm smile and extra patience as you venture out into the world today. I wish you happy hugs and kisses on the cheek, happy waves from people who are in the spirit, helpful hellos from the people working in the stores. I wish you opportunities to purchase at small businesses if possible, maybe a local eatery, too. I wish you a few little Christmas cards or letters in the mailbox today, maybe a text or a call from a number you haven’t seen pop up on your phone in a while. I wish you warm cookies and smack on the hand as you try to take one too soon. I wish you a “ho ho ho” or the sound of a child’s gleeful laughter as they take in the festive spirit. I wish you a reminder that you make someone’s world go ’round, that the gifts that you bring to this world are beautiful and brilliant, and that you are profoundly loved. Of all the seasons to know that, this is certainly the one. You are loved, Dear Reader, and you are worthy of that love. Let the light of that emanate from you and touch other people along your way this weekend and for the rest of the season.
Until Monday, Dear Reader, take care. Short posts next week with pictures and stuff, but no long posts. Ya’ll are gonna be busy and so will I! Be safe and jolly out there!