I stood at the stove, wooden spoon in hand, reveling in the beefy goodness saturating the air and condensing into damp whirls upon the kitchen windowpane. Nina Simone crooned from the stereo while the rosemary and sea salt bread crisping in the oven tinged the house with that homeyness that I swear only comes from baking something with yeast inside of it. The chaos of the day was slipping slowly into the shadows, dinner was moments away...
"Mom, I'm starving--can I have a snack?" My fingers clench for a split second on the wooden handle and my spine stiffens. The woman who has spent two hours on her feet to produce this masterpiece of a meal is slightly offended, but a glance at the six foot two, twelve year-old lanky boy in the doorway restores my sense of humor--seriously, the boy has always been hungry. However...
"Do you know what the most important ingredient is?" I ask, my head tilted slightly, eyes shining, a smile on my lips. He sighs, he's heard this many times. Grinning back, he turns to leave with that resigned slouch of the shoulders, capitulating as gracefully as his growling stomach will allow. "Ten more minutes!" I call after him, chuckling softly to myself. My friends, do you know what the most essential ingredient is?
My mother used to tell me this as I too, hung about the kitchen, drooling over the scents escaping the blistering oven. The pots that simmered upon the stovetop, the pies cooling on the sideboard. Ahhh, the delicious joy of aching anticipation. Feeling positively hollow, it seemed as if the blessing was going to last till dawn, but then that first bite....oh, sweet heaven! Eyes closed, mouth full...utter bliss.
With this holiday season creeping closer, candy stuffed fists knocking on our doors, programs dripping gravy and cheese seeping from our television screens, hypnotic magazine pictures of the ultimate festival of cakedom strewn about our coffee tables--may we take a moment to pause. To evaluate....
How hungry are you?
I fear the truth of that question may surprise you. For if one is excruciatingly honest--for many of us, it has been years.
It's the latest diet fad, hanging about a while now--the idea that the standard "three meals a day" motif of life was actually straight from the Satanic bible. It's solely responsible for that cushy tush and those darling love handles we all seem to sport....GET THEE AWAY FROM ME, YE SPAWN OF HADES!! (ok, I am actually laughing as I type that line...) Rather you must eat six small meals spread throughout your day, peppered with "healthy snacks" and tiny treats all in the name of: "Never let yourself get hungry because you lack the self-control to not gorge until reaching the point of belt-loosening expansion." *sigh*
But I ask, have we lost more than the odd pound in this quest? We are becoming, in oh-so-many ways, such a society of the moment--waiting for anything at all, a thing of the past. On-line shopping, instant downloads, fast food, drive through restaurants (NOT to be confused with fast food, mind you) automatic-importunate-split second life. We multi-task our existence and waiting is a terribly un-vogue ritual spoken of only by those that actually know how to dial a rotary phone.
Desire and yearning. Thirst. Longing...needing....craving. The friction of a fingertip along the soft skin on inside of your elbow, the absolute most perfect Christmas gift ever found, a love letter written by hand and sprayed with scent that lingers in the mailbox for days, making you smile.....butter melting into the dips and divots of a piece of hot bread, the oven still spilling it's yeasty warmth into the kitchen behind you....each of these, made so much more splendid....
By the wait.
By the appetite.
So this year, as your life amps up into overdrive and your schedules begin to collide like planets knocked out of orbit, I challenge you. Don't snack on your way home. Don't indulge every whim--for the very definition of a whim is just a passing fancy....wait for desire.