3 Min read
On Gratitude and Dissent
1 Cookbook rec
Giving thanks this time of year is a practice in gratitude. Gratitude is vogue, hip, lit. It’s handy and eternal, an ever-ready virtue, making an appearance at holiday tables before the first sip of wine. And, it’s this instilled aspect of the ritual of saying grace or writing about gratitude in a journal, the obligation, the sense of duty and expectation that gives it a gloss and cheek that’s a bit off-putting. Of course I know I’m supposed to be grateful and I am grateful. BUT.
A lot of things bother me. My dog chewed the corner of the Stickley sofa cushion and the car wouldn’t start today, to name two. A good friend of my daughter, Megan, stopped by with a dozen donuts and a plate of home-made chocolate chip cookies, the soft-in-the-center with a firm edge and loaded with chocolate chips kind. Her visit was a good thing, but what she said gave me pause. She told me about her work and the degrees of masochism involved with getting her CPA certification and working at a big-six–or is that five, or four, who knows anymore–accounting firm. The chatter could have been a Seinfeld skit with one-liners about the size of her apartment, the hours on the job, and the zombie-like days. Thing is–she was saying–she likes it, maybe loves it.
The topic of basketball came up and Megan was very much anti-Coach K, the Duke basketball coach who recently retired amid Tom Brady-esque I’m going to quit and not quit and quit style fanfare. Dear God, would the man retire already? This is her line. The firm she works for hired Coach K to speak, for motivation reasons I guess, and the room was crazy for him. But our girl Megan is a Villanova grad and was having none of it. And, she contrasts this with the talented Villanova coach, Jay Wright, whose stellar career ended in a simple, quiet, this is my last game statement. My husband mentioned that Coach K was a legend and folks love him for his record, the things he’s done.
Maybe so, she continues. But it is ALL about him and Megan was done with it. Enough.
I’ve thought a lot about this line and Megan’s take on the famous basketball coach and West Point graduate, Coach Krzyzewski, who is revered in our circles. Huh.
One more thing that bothers me and then I’ll stop. For some years I regretted not knowing an aquaintance; she seemed a kind and wonderful person. I knew of her but did not know know her, thinking of that as a loss. A friend recently told me about Calissa, or Cal, and the miseries, the absolute dread in her petty nuisances and unthoughtful antics as a roommate. It had gotten so bad, that my friend was planning revenge, “I’m about to blow my stack and end it all right here and now, and that means taking her out with me!”
Decades later, I’ve come to realize how lucky I am for the friends I have.
If I’m counting graces or blessings, then I count among them, Megan’s dissent. And, I can dismiss a longing for friendship and tend to the friendships I have. And, while I’m at it, I’ll mention the heavenly cookies Megan brought. I asked if she knew her mother’s recipe, just how she made them so gooey and chocolatety. Megan mentioned Sally, the online baking goddess. LO AND BEHOLD! Sally’s baking book showed up at the door and I made two batches of dough yesterday with my daughter.*
The essential changes were cornstarch in the batter, more brown than white sugar, chilling the dough, and melting the butter slightly. Most of these things went ok, though I whisked flour onto my pants and overmelted the butter which I had to put in the freezer. BUT, the cookies were good, not as divine as Megan’s, but good.
To family and to friends – thank you for the stories. And, for the candor and the cookies. I am grateful for you.
*My huband ordered the book Sallys Baking Addiction when he learned about Sally’s online site from Megan. He had in mind my COVID pastime of baking cookies. I was annoyed about the surprise arrival of the book, in the way that I am about things I want and don’t want. I want to eat this kind of cookie but I don’t want the calories or the implication that I should bake them. So I said when the book arrived, then I did a sneak peek and another sneak peek, figuring I might as well try the recipe.