Family – ups and downs but always love

The last two years have been a roller coaster of deep-down heavy emotions. (My daughter’s breast cancer during a pregnancy, my brothers open heart surgery and discovery of bladder cancer kicked off the season of craziness and my having a Pulmonary Embolism in my right lung last summer made for interesting emotions. (On a side note: we are all doing well right now!) All of this was followed but the world pandemic and national politics.

 Needless to say, we are now always looking for the light side of things. I, personally, am hunting for them in the little moments that bring a smile and hopefully a few good laughs as well. Laughing has been far from our ears and hearts. Besides the fact that my family of origin was never good with humor to start with we now need to work extra hard to bring fun and joy into the daily life.

All of this leads me to last Sunday morning when we had our current version of a Christmas Cookie bake. This has traditionally been done with a close friend and our kids. Each of us bringing cookie dough and we spend the day with the kids baking, decorating and laughing. This year this event was not going to happen so my daughter and I decided we would make cookies just the same. We needed to keep this yearly event going and introduce her eighteen month old to it as well. Since he comes to our house 5 days a week that makes them are our little pod. We decided it would be safe.

We also invited my sister who I walk with most days and has not been inside anyone’s home or really been any place other than to get groceries since last March. She said she couldn’t come, then said maybe for a short time and she would wear a mask. We told her we would all wear a mask if that made her feel more comfortable and she would stay. After much thought and fear she finally chose to come. The desire to be with family won her over.

Mason and Mom

And so, the day began with young Mason helping to make cookie dough with flour flying everywhere. He does not have the word “I” yet so he refers to himself as baby.  Everything we did we heard “baby”  – as in Baby do! Think the great two year old statement “I do”,  “I do it myself”.

His hands were in softened butter, they were grabbing eggs to break into the dough, and he loved holding the spatula in the running stand mixer as it bumped along. (Did you know it makes a nice thumbing sound as it whirs with the dough.) There was the coco power that joined the flying flour when he pulled the handle on the mixer to the high position, just after he dumped it into the dough. His giggles were delightful and left us all with more laughter than we had felt for a long time.

He grew serious and worked hard as he moved on to rolling out dough. He and his mother working side by side. Each with a wooden rolling pin rolling and chatting. My heart melted as I watch my daughter and my grandson there together in the kitchen. Their hands moving back and forth over the dough made from the old Swedish cookie recipe from my mother. Traditions!  

He picked out cookie cutters and stamp out cookies. He made great sound effects when pushing the cookie cutters down – that, led to much delight on our half. My serious sister could not help but laugh as he shared the dough with her and fully expected she would eat whatever he shared with her.  

Mason and my sister

Together we rolled, decorated, baked and laughed. Mason pulled us into the light of the holiday season helping us to leaving the heaviness of our day to day lives behind for a few hours. Helping us to put down the family issues that sometimes arise or the tiredness that we have all been feeling these last few months.

In the growing dark of late afternoon everyone headed home with tins of cookies in hand and very tired. A quiet settled over my kitchen as I scrubbed up flour, washed cookie sheets and wiped down the tables. My thoughts returned to all the little moments that held smiles and laughter – watching my daughter and her son, seeing my sister smile behind her mask and watch her laugh as we worked, sorting out cookies into old family tins, and knowing that we had made many memories to hold onto as we move into the cold of winter and holidays where we could not sit down to share a meal.  

We missed our friends – the wider circle of family and community but we held tight to what we could do safely. We built bonds across our family and found laughter and joy in the simple act of baking.

Ending – I now need to find containers to share all these cookies with the neighbors since I should not be eating them and there are no big parties to bring them to, but I am so glad we made them even if I end up throwing them away!  It was the act of doing and being together that mattered. Through all these dark and troubled times, we have once again found the importance of family and friends.

About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
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1 Response to Family – ups and downs but always love

  1. A. Shruti says:

    This is such a lovely write up in such trying times. Mason is going to cherish this memory and so will you all. It is these little things that make childhood special and the bonds strong. Sending much cheer and good health your way!

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