There was a time when gluten-free meant sacrifice. Horrible, terrible sacrifice. One of the sacrifices I made was to give up Stollen which is one of my all time favourite sweet breads. Christmas was Stollen, Stollen was Christmas – that’s how life has always been ever since I was a kid until I had to give it up. Well – guess what? Yesterday I found a gluten-free stollen which is as fabulous if not more fabulous then your regular old wheat-ridden stollen. I swear even the most discerning consumer of regular stollen would not be able to tell the difference.
Where did I find this fabulous golden morsel? At the Sweet Tooth Cakery ! I love the fact that they don’t put gluten-free in their name. Why?Because it doesn’t make one iota of a difference that they’re gluten-free. They make cakes, breads and sweets that are fabulous for both the GF crowd and wheat- eating folks alike.
For my mom, the little Dutch girl.
Often when I was a young girl my mother would look at the incredible dinner we were eating and say, “Ohhhh Tessie, look at this. This isn’t so bad at all. If only they could see us now!” I never knew who the “they” were but just that someone “out there” should witness this incredible feast we were having. You see my mom was a single mother with very limited resources. And while I never lacked for anything my mother’s circumstances made me aware from a young age of the value of things.
Rosie’s joy in these triumphs both large and small gave me a sense of celebration. New shoes, ‘Yippee let’s celebrate”, a great dinner,” Woo hoooo I want the world to see this.” Beautiful sunny day, “Wow, Tess can you imagine.” Or, “Nobody wants to hire me mom.” What? ” she’d say in genuine shock. “Who wouldn’t want you? All in good time. There’s a reason for everything. Trust me.” Or she’d look around her small two bedroom apartment and say, “Look at this. It’s so cozy isn’t it. Look at those paintings. You know I just look around and I love it. I love everything in here.” My mom talked about that apartment like it was a palace. And to her it was.
So I’m going to try and apply her innate ability to celebrate life as a glass half full rather than half empty to this last year in my own life.
I would say that having a health scare and losing my job don’t even register as negatives in view of facing the biggest loss of my life which is the loss of my mom. I would also say that the wrenching pain of losing my Rosie yielded a different kind of beauty than I would have ever anticipated. That I have a more intimate knowledge of the word bitter and sweet. That these bitter moments in life also yield life’s greatest sweetnesses. That through this journey with my mother and my family I came to know her in a deeper and better way. That I watched my brother and sisters rise to the occasion even in their weakest moments, that I saw generosity and forgiveness. That I saw my nieces and nephews literally surround my mother with their love and their liveliness, that I saw them take her hand and love her. That I saw them not be afraid even if they were a little. That I saw that my mother had created a family of love and joy. That we all sat in her room with the liveliness and sense of celebration that we got directly from her and which she passed on to us.
That she was the creator of this family that seems to have passed on the gene of experiencing life in all of it’s bittersweetness as more than half full. That when my husband said last year at Christmas “Let’s make room for the prettiest girl in the room.” that the dance floor parted with all her grandchildren and children surrounding her and dancing with the joy that somehow in spite of everything we have managed as a family to foster and grow and pass on.
So this year I lost my mother. But this year I saw more clearly what her gifts were and I see them everywhere in my family. And for that I am eternally grateful and will try and honour her ability to experience life as always more than half full. Cheers mom.