Holiday Spirit

In this week leading up to Christmas, I find myself running around like a skittish cockroach. Thankfully, the publishing world grinds to a halt and I’ve submitted my college students’ final grades, so I have some time during the day to take care of All The Things.

One such thing is getting/baking cookies for the Cub Scouts holiday party this week. My plan was to buy a bag of cookie mix and add water and stick that in the oven and be done. When I told this to Miles, his face fell. He reminded me that some scouts are allergic to nuts and gluten, and the bagged mixes aren’t safe for those scouts to eat.

Miles, who doesn’t often seem aware of others’ feelings, wanted me to think of those scouts and asked if we could make something that was safe for everyone.

After I took a few minutes to sit with my feelings about this, I agreed that we could find a safe recipe. Amidst all my buzzing around and thinking about things that are, ultimately, inconsequential, my son reminded me how valuable it is to be inclusive. It won’t be that much extra work for me to get cookies that all the scouts can enjoy. (There are even mixes to make this easier)

What we ended up doing was a two-fold approach to this holiday party. First, we wrote to Miles’s teacher to ask permission for this project to substitute as his homework this week. They’re studying liquid measurements in math class. They’re thinking of others’ feelings in their discussions of Grace and Courtesy (yes, Montessori school students study Grace and Courtesy as part of their curriculum! Which I heartily endorse!!!). Miles would have an opportunity to work on his handwriting when he filled out the index card of ingredients to go with the cookies.

Next up, we needed to make our kitchen safe. Like a Kosher woman preparing for Passover, I set about scouring the kitchen and all the tools we will use to bake and transport the cookies. All crumbs of gluten are (I think) gone, and all traces of nuts have been banished from our work space. I even got out a fresh sponge to wash the mixing bowl.

The scouring process took a long time, but I used that time to think about what I was doing and why. Most likely, the parents of the kids with the severe allergies won’t allow them to eat these cookies, anyway, because it’s just so hard to avoid contamination with items baked at home. Will they trust me to get fresh butter that has never had a toast-knife smeared on top? Do they know that I looked for GF vanilla extract? Kids with food allergies spend their lives in danger of hospitalization from sitting across the table from a kid eating Lo Mein. I know they tend not to trust food they didn’t prepare with their own hands.

I’m grateful that this fear and fastidious checking isn’t part of my daily life. And so I shook the crumbs from my toaster oven into the trash can.

Whenever anyone has kids, they get asked “What traits and qualities would you like to see in your children when they grow up??” and for years I’ve listed curiosity, kindness, and resourcefulness as the traits I most want to instill in my offspring. Most days, I fear I have failed miserably at transferring all three of these. As my children pound each other in the temples with hard plastic dinosaurs, as they push each other down the wooden stairs and smear boogers in each other’s eyes, I fear they are going to become apathetic monsters.

So during these rare moments when my sons speak up to tell me they are, actually, thinking of others and seeing a way to make life just a wee bit more normal for the kids around them, well, I feel really proud. And so I scour the stand mixer, scrape the baking sheets, and read the labels on the bag of chocolate chips. I drive to our friend’s house for a bag of gluten free flour mix, and I thank my oldest son for reminding me that it feels better to include everyone at the table.

Can I always rid my home of hametz before a Cub Scout party? No. But this week I could, and I’m grateful that my son thought it was important to try.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 19th, 2017 at 11:53 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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