Giving Back

Let’s Get Pancakes

“Let’s get pancakes” I said. “It will be fun.” I said.

That was a few days ago when Snooze AM Eatery brilliantly marketed their National Pancake Day celebration on my Facebook feed. Those damn targeted ads. They work.

So when my phone buzzed at 6 am with one of my friends texting she was sick and wouldn’t make our breakfast date I almost rolled over and went back to sleep. Then I couldn’t find a comfortable spot in my bed and my alarm kept buzzing back from snooze singing to me, “It’s time to get up in the morning.”

I got out of bed. It was still dark out. Let me repeat. It was still DARK out. I never wake up when it’s dark out. Sorry folks, I just don’t.

I got dressed, kissed my sick husband on his feverish forehead and left the house.

As I walked to the garage I noticed a thread of bunny tracks in the snow across the driveway. A sign of life in the glistening powder that was gifted to us last night. Tiny animal prints reminding me that we share our yard with other little creatures.

I got in my car, turned on the heat, drove the twenty miles to get a delicious breakfast. Heat in my car. A beautiful thing on a frosty morning.

As I drove the sun came up, turning the sky from dark to pink to blue. Shivering trees brushed the sky, reaching up their branches into the promise of another appearance from the sun.

I never wake up early enough to see the sunrise. I should witness that beauty more.

We sat down to warm coffee with rising cream in those perfectly crafted yellow mugs  and placed our order.

And then our waitress brought us these.

pancakes.jpg

Giant.

Giant pancakes. We started laughing. I thought we ordered off the special flight menu for, you know, National Pancake Day.  The tiny pancakes. I guess I was wrong.

Beauty in abundance on my plate(s). In white flour and caramelized pears, in strawberry jam mixing with sausage, and white chocolate mixing with coconut flakes. Beauty in pools of syrup and perfectly weighted forks.

Beauty in enjoying time with friends. Beauty in feeling productive before 8 am. Beauty in frequenting local restaurants that give back to their communities.

And later, tonight as I thought about this post, I asked my friend, “Hey silly question, did you take a pic of all those pancakes this morning?”

Of course she did. It’s so great when you have friends who get you. Who snapchat their food and document culinary adventures so I can share them with you.

Today reminded me that it doesn’t take much to be delighted. Mix up your routine. Watch the sunrise. Order the pancake or two.

You can always take home the leftovers for breakfast tomorrow.

 

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“Thermal Shock and Die”

I have a brother who is three years younger than me. When we were growing up, say oh, he was in middle school and I was in the beginning of high school, he and my dad would go off to Boy Scout camp. The trips ran Friday afternoon through Sunday mid-day. Overnights, tents, farting – you know the drill. I don’t; I wasn’t there.

While the boys were away the girls would play. And when I say “play” I mean my mom and I would camp out on the couch watching whole seasons of Gilmore Girls and eat entire pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. The boys would be building snow forts, and chopping wood and starting fires and the girls would be snuggling under blankets and drinking hot chocolate and sleeping in.  These activities were never fully disclosed to the other parties upon return to family dinner on Monday nights. My mom and I would communicate with a smile about how sluggish we were and the boys would laugh and laugh about their adventures, keeping their inside jokes to one-liners, never letting us in to each others secrets.

However, there must have been one spectacular Boy Scout lesson that my brother had to share that is really coming to mind tonight. Before I get there, though, I feel I’ve got to give you some background info. For those of you who know my brother, it’s pretty obvious that we are polar opposites. He is loud and really funny and personable – hates being at home on any evening of the week. I, on the other hand, love me some quiet time, a cup of soup, a mug of tea, and hanging with my mom (nothing new here – did you read what I just wrote above?)

One weekend, in the winter, my brother came running through our house after tearing open the front door, leaving the freezing air to seep into our front room, clomping ever so loudly down the stairs to our basement abode. He had to share his Boy Scout preparedness lesson – all that one could do too prevent thermal shock. Skills, I imagine, that are incredibly necessary for winter survival. Something my fourteen year old self was NOT concerned about, as I did not plan on ever going camping in any weather below 55 degrees at night. Too be honest, I still do not.

I don’t remember the story, exactly, all I remember is the punch line of his story – that weekend, he was SO concerned, that he was going to “Get Thermal Shock and Die.” If you know my brother, ask him to say those five words because his tone is wonderfully threatening, wise and sarcastic. I can not get a recording here, but I do know that one-liner became my mom’s go to for reminding us to get gloves, wear coats, and bring a hat as the weather got colder. You MUST prepare for any weather, because you do not want to “Get Thermal Shock and Die.” It’s a family line now, a lesson imparted, and a reminder that my brother and I handle things ever so differently.

Tonight, I sit in my apartment and am full of gratitude as the weather drops below zero. November morphed into freezing weather and snow in 4 hours, as it often does in Colorado, and I seem to have forgotten what snow actually feels like. Yesterday, as the temperature dropped so did our thermostat. The little machine stopped working and before bed it was 59 degrees. It was a night of flannel sheets, and two comforters, and hoodies. I am so thankful for a responsive landlord who drove up quickly to fix it. Mostly, though, I was struck by the simple beauty of a bed, and extra blankets, and responsive problem solvers who care to take care of us.

I was channeling my mom as I got dressed to leave this morning. Gloves, check. Hat, check. Coat, check. No thermal shock here, not yet. I went about my day, warm at work, and nestled into routine. I got home, made soup, and could take a warm shower. Our thermostat was running. However, as I sat down to write, our pilot light went out on our fireplace right before I turned on the computer. There goes the idyllic writing in front of the fire place experience. Maybe I should stop shooting for idyllic writing sessions? Instead, I’m focusing on the beauty of a bountiful box of  hats and gloves to choose from. Not everyone is so lucky. Not to get morbid here, but I am thankful that I can just joke about “Thermal Shock” in jest, because I know, all too much, that not everyone can laugh that concern off.

I’m cleaning out my closet and donating my extra coats to Homeless Gear, because they need it. People, my friends, are cold and freezing and trying to stay warm, and I am so fortunate, that I can just turn that one-liner into a funny voice in my head. So, here is my PSA, donate your unused coats and warm clothes to those that need it. Do some research, find a place, help a person, warm some hands. I’ve got a big heart, I think about these things and want you to think about them too.

This week I’m settling into the beauty of bundling up, snow flakes and the cold, quiet that snow creates. I’m loving the twinkle lights that got lit for the holiday season downtown. They make my slow drive home much more enjoyable.

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I’m setting into the beauty of gratitude this season and asking myself how can I give back what I have been given. And how can I stay warm? Do you have any family one-liners that you can laugh about? What about things you take for granted? How do you like to give back during this time of the year?