catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 12, Num 22 :: 2013.11.29 — 2013.12.12


On a roll

It was the last Wednesday in November when I ventured into the introvert’s hell that is the grocery store the day before a major holiday.  I’d had to work that morning and had a major list of things to attend to that afternoon and evening to meet deadlines before we headed out to visit our families for Thanksgiving.  My husband and I had been charged with bringing the bread and butter for 22 people the next day and, not one for store-bought, I’d gotten as far as picking out a homemade recipe that would resemble the Hawaiian rolls the family was used to.  However, staring into the abyss of a frantic afternoon, I caved: wandering around what passes for a bakery in a big box store, I threw a variety of dinner rolls into the cart — restaurant-style, two for $4.00, croissants on sale for $2.99.  Should I add the pretzel rolls, too?  Changing plans on the fly, I crossed the good intentions off my list — flour, yeast, milk — and proceeded to the rest of the items.

I was toward the back of the store, loading a bulk supply of tissues into the cart to manage my husband’s fall allergies, when I realized: I couldn’t do it.  Back to the baking aisle for the raw materials, and back to the “bakery” to deposit my illicit goods.  Homemade rolls, ready or not, here I come.

There are all kinds of reasons we drive ourselves crazy around holidays — tradition, guilt (from within or without), family pressure, one-upmanship, pride.  I admit to falling prey to all of these things at one time or another.  But what came to me in the tissue aisle was something I didn’t want to suppress: I wanted to give our family the gift of homemade rolls for Thanksgiving. Beyond just listing the things I’m thankful for, I wanted to take on the challenge of practicing gratitude in spite of my busy schedule, thankful as I mixed, thankful as I kneaded, thankful as I separated dough into portions.

Now here’s my confession, lest I deceive you with my angelic motives: I haven’t made the rolls yet.  I finished my grocery pilgrimage just one hour ago and I’m tackling number one on that infinite to-do list as I type (“write editorial” — check).  Will I manage to get to the rolls tonight before exhaustion unleashes a string of cuss words while I wait for the dough to rise?  Will I bake a blessing or a curse?  At the moment, it’s a toss-up.

But if I fail to practice gratitude this time, I hope I’ll try again, and again. The times we choose to celebrate, if they really matter to us, should require something of us, a sacrifice that’s more than just substituting one consumer choice for another.  Celebrations are like a magnifying glass, focusing what matters most until it flickers into the spark by which we warm our ordinary days.

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