Happy New Year, Friends! I apologize for not being a busy writer lately, but we’ve been been busy with other important activities like celebrating the holidays, sledding with our cousins, skiing with aunts and uncles, walking in snowy woods, visiting with friends, and eating many yummy Christmas treats over the month of December. But I’m back, and ready to deliver some hope, or at least some humor for 2019.
Recently, I tried to make stollen with a friend. Stollen is an EXTREMELY complicated German fruit cake, a tradition in my friend’s British American family, and a first for me. Here’s the thing; my stollen failed. The yeast didn’t rise, which meant, well, the bread didn’t become bread. There is that tricky baking chemistry, a breaking down of certain molecules and combining of others to build something new and potentially delicious. For those of you who know me, I am a rule follower, a direction follower, one who pays attention to the details. The stollen should not have failed me, yet one part of our recipe did not cooperate with the bigger plan. Despite our best efforts, we failed.
Yet even in this failure to thrive, we did not despair. Her brother and his family were traveling to the states for Christmas and would bring more legitimate stollen with them so all was not lost. I thought about what I would do differently next time concerning the “British bits” of candied orange zest and currants and marzipan goodness, and my friend’s mother, (who also holds a Ph.D in stollen) was chock full of suggestions. There will be another go at stollen for me in 2019. The stollen has not beaten me down, even if the yeast won this early battle in my own version of the British Baking Show, season 8, a show, coincidentally, my nieces are obsessed with.
We are kicking off the New Year today traveling to Boston to meet up with dear old friends who have just had a baby through the miracle of in vitro fertilization. I can’t actually imagine a better way to step into 2019 than by holding a new baby, one whose arrival is actually exponentially cooler than rising yeast. I may even cry when I hold her, which will probably embarrass my children as the tears towards the end of 2018 really came more frequently. Taking in the new Mary Poppins over vacation with my daughter, mother, sister in law and nieces prompted my daughter to say afterwards, “Really, Mom, all that crying in the movie theater was practically embarrassing.” Practically being the operative word there, so I’m just borderline embarrassing. We had watched the original Mary Poppins a few weeks before Christmas so the kids would be ready for the new one. Only I was the one not ready for its power. The new Mary Poppins is truly amazing and beautiful; the music is miraculous, and what also put me into crazy tears as my little girl snuggled on my lap. See the new Mary Poppins film and you too may understand why that magic and mystery and imagination renewal is exactly what we need at the end of a challenging year.
Just two days ago, another friend’s father passed away. He was 93, a Holocaust survivor, and an amazing father, grandfather, and great grandfather many times over. When I told my children, Rina’s dad had passed away, Greta asked if all those years had been enough for Pumpa. Sometimes I swear this girl has lived a thousand lifetimes before this one. Yes, I’m pretty damn sure those 93 years, especially those following WW2, had been enough even if his family is very sad to lose him now.
So, Happy New Year people, may your year and hearts be filled with much hope, laughter, love and many miracles, maybe even some stollen. My last wish for you at the start of 2019 is to make each day of each month of the year– enough. Whatever that means for you. Like the crappy yeast or the missed slalom race gates our son realized yesterday, sometimes we fail. We try again so that the stollen and those British bits know I’m coming for them, and our son discovers that missed gates are part of ski racing, and our daughter wonders how many years will be enough. Here’s to all the toasts we missed last night when the clock struck twelve, as my family had been asleep since nine. Happy New Year!