I'm so shiny with validity now, and so glad that the words and pictures and thoughts that spin around my head resound with you. The comments here always support, encourage, understand. Thank you so much for that. You are all radiant. I would be a guarantor for all of you, too, if I could.
And now... pancakes!
Looking at this picture, I first of all notice that Leafy's hands are huge! Sigh. They are all so big. Why is it so surprising? Like my new freckles and wrinkles always surprise me when I look in the mirror.
Speaking of surprises, I'm always taken aback by how simple pleasing my kids can be. I mean, sometimes they feel like little endless wells of need, pushing for the next fun thing, the next treat. Kids aren't notorious for being frugal. But in some ways, their pleasure in family things, in tradition, is so, so simple.
We started doing pancakes on Sunday mornings years ago. The way I work in the kitchen is that I need to be well prepared, thinking about things ahead of time. Fully aware of how much time I'm going to spend standing over the stove. And everyone loves pancakes, so it was simple to make a pancake day.
And they LOVE it. It means the world to them. It stays the same, whether or not our location changes. It is the same, it is constant. It means a lot more than food on Sunday to them. It means, This is our family. This is the way we do things. This is what our mom made.
I hear all of this in their voices when they tell people about it.
We have a few things like this. All simple. All cherished more than I would have imagined when I began them.
~Nutella on pancakes for birthday breakfasts. Nutella is ubiquitous worldwide. It's one thing I know I'll always be able to find. If I wanted to, I'm pretty sure I could find Pringles anywhere, also.
~Scavenger hunts for birthday presents. This one is a big one, because we often can't predict where birthdays will take place. A scavenger hunt takes me twenty minutes or so to set up- they get clues, they hunt for presents, they bring them back and open them. Older kids help younger kids read the clues. Clues are easy for little ones, harder for big ones. And they LOVE it. I couldn't stop if I wanted to. I'm stuck now, I'll be making clues until they're thirty.
~Speaking of birthdays, there are certain games we always play. Stop dancing when the music stops, musical chairs- always to our live Chinua music, which can be anything you want. Blues, gospel, turkish music, celtic, country. Whatever, really.
There were so many things I couldn't fathom when I first became a mother. The wilderness of family life seemed overwhelming to me. But I love tradition myself, it helps me to know what to expect, to know what is expected of me. How can I give them something special? Sometimes it's just by doing the same simple thing, over and over again. The repetition means I love you. I remembered. I always remember and I think of you every Sunday morning, when I'm mixing the batter, or you're mixing the batter, and I'm flipping the pancakes or you are.
This is so much of what practice is. I see it in all areas of my life: spiritual, family, friends, art-- how doing the same thing again and again doesn't need to be stagnant. It gives weight to love, especially when you show up with your whole heart, but even sometimes when you can't quite bring all of you. The part of you that remembers not to forget is still there, still in motion, still building something that will be lovely in the end.