As much as I tell myself to slow it down this season, I still strive to check the boxes and make everything shine brightly for my teenage daughters. I’ve planned daily activities, but I’ve found that just because I write, “take a walk to look at the neighborhood lights,” doesn’t guarantee it happening.
Macy’s Light Show was on the docket for last Saturday, but one daughter wasn’t feeling well, so we stayed home and made a batch of cookies. Homework trumped a holiday craft activity. Kids (and husband!) chose time with friends over the Philadelphia Boys’ Choir concert, so I went with my SIL and MIL.
Just before my father died three years ago, I’d attended the annual Boys’ Choir event, and when I sat down in the same section this year, I felt a heaviness. But as I looked up and just beside me, I recognized a woman I hadn’t seen in thirty years. She’d been our neighbor growing up: her warm smile hadn’t changed; her eyes lit up remembering my parents, and she wrapped me in an Irish hug.
Taking in the beautiful voices, I thought about how, when we were making cookies, my 12-year-old stood at my height beside me over the mixing bowl. Instructions said to “gradually blend,” so she poured the flour ever-so-slowly into the egg mixture—slower than she’d had to, but I wasn’t going to tell her that.
I had pocketed the memory and smiled in the recollection: the whirl of the blender, the scent of almond extract, my girl’s fuzzy-socked feet and her quiet, careful attention to the task at hand.