I haven’t done a catch-up post for awhile, and here we are at the end of the 2021 (almost!) Enough said that between viral mutation and climate change catastrophes it’s been a weird year, though we’ve done pretty well getting through it at Birdsong (owing to a great community and quite a bit of housing and financial privilege which allowed us to escape the precarity many people are facing right now).
Like everyone, I’m a bit done with the disaster movie life, but I’m also pretty sure that this is the way life will be framed forever until I die. I had hoped that the worst of the planetary undoing would come sometime in my 80s when I could just nope on out of here, but it seems that I’m going to experience a lot of it thirty years ahead of my preferred schedule.
But I’m going to do my best to enjoy whatever time in whatever conditions we’ve got left – and I don’t mean by flying around the world and churning more garbage for the landfill. Case in point, I still cherish beautiful tableware and last week Brian and I bought a set of vintage pottery from Mexico to replace our (ho-hum) everyday dishes. This is the kind of small delight I need with my morning coffee, or my evening meal – mugs that fit perfectly in the hand, the lightness of well-made stoneware, and little birds!
But while the big news on this home front is that we have new tableware, a lot more is going on in our extended families right now with elder parents transitioning and moving (which involves no small amount of drama in my family). I anticipate a lot of heavy lifting in the new year facilitate some of this. Fortunately no one is in a precipitous health decline and it’s more that everything has become too much and no one is denying it anymore. I hope that moving into more manageable housing will relieve some of the stress in my parents lives and help them live longer and with less anxiety. This Christmas will be the last we celebrate in their home of fifty years, and though my brother will stay on the family property it does mark the end of the central gathering place my mother always created for the holidays.
So I guess it’s no wonder I’m feeling a little verklempt as we enter the holiday season, because I can see that over the next few years things are going to get a little harder for everyone, even with these modifications and supports.
I’ve been baking cookies for the annual Xmas feast on Gabriola – which the last two years has involved delivered meals for those who sign-up – and this has brought a little Christmas cheer into the house which has smelled perpetually like ginger this week. Besides basic cookies, I attempted some German baking at my mother’s request–stollen and lebkuchen–which are among her favourite seasonal treats. While I may not be the best judge of my own baking, Brian confirms that both have turned out (the chocolate dipped lebkuchen are crazy good), though he has never had pfeffernüsse or lebukuchen before so perhaps he isn’t the best judge either. Suffice to say, we will be arriving at my parent’s home with a lot of baking this year (including Brian’s shortbread and Christmas cake), plus all the trimmings for Christmas dinner since we offererd to cook this year.
The provincial health announcement yesterday recommends the curtailing of gatherings, but more than anything I am worried about the weather which is supposed to blow in wintery around Christmas eve. I’m hoping that it holds off until the travel part of our day is done, which won’t be until later in the evening. Everyone we will be seeing is vaccinated, and our older family members are boosted, which doesn’t guarantee anything against omicron, but does help according to the data I’ve read. We booked our boosters for January 8th yesterday as we are part of “whole community” vaccination efforts on Gabriola and get to go a little ahead of our age cohort as a result. Brian and I are still inside six months since our second vaccination, so we should still be protected. Christmas has always been a stressful time for me, but the last couple of years have really been over the top.
And yet, I am still grateful heading into 2022 – that we have enough to carry ourselves through, that no one close to us has been struck terribly ill or by disaster in the last year, that I have great love in my life. I have lived through years where none of this is true – and so I am holding on to the goodness that is here right now. One day past the solstice, today is when the light begins to return today, which is truly a cause for celebration. We are through the longest night, though perhaps not the longest winter – my holiday wish for everyone is that we may pass through these days stronger and more connected, despite that which keeps us physically apart.
If you ever need a true and authentic tasting review for your Lebkuchen and Stollen, don’t hesitate to contact me. I grew up with this stuff for the first 11 years of my life having been brought up in Germany by my grandparents. True delectable delights! 🙂
I had no idea! Marc! You are on my list for next year as chief taste tester 🙂
Thank you for your beautiful and honest reflection on what has been a difficult year. I appreciate the way you are able to acknowledge both the challenges and the positive aspects. I have a great affection for little birds (they remind me of my mother) and would love to taste your Lebkuchen.
Seasons greetings from Australia, where it is both warm and humid.
And seasons greetings to you in Australia! We got an unusual dump of snow here over the holidays so we are about as far from you climate wise as it gets this year!