For the last I-don’t-know-how-many years, my daughter and I have baked cookies in December. Lots and lots of cookies. And we try to keep up with the numbers, not so we can brag but so we know how many of each kind can go on a plate. This year’s calculations—and baking—yielded 1,905 bits of deliciousness. At least that’s what we thought until we started plating and had cookies left over when we shouldn’t have. Either we can’t do math or we can’t count.
For the past three years (at least), we’ve chronicled our journey on Facebook under the hashtag “cookiethon____” (you fill in the year on that blank) so this year it was cookiethon2016 preceded by a number sign (because this font which I can’t change evidently doesn’t recognize that symbol and it looks really weird when I actually type it correctly). Inevitably, we have folks who want to know how to get on our list and we tell them they don’t want on our list . . . because our list is comprised of those who are grieving due to some form of loss.
Over the years we’ve had various other bakers join us. For a while it was my daughter-in-law but small children kinda put a kink in that. A couple of years ago we had a guest baker who wanted to learn our secrets (like we have any after posting the whole escapade on Facebook), and this year we had another one who had baking experience and whose mother was once a cake decorator—meaning little Kathryne did not have to squiggle all the Seuss Trees with icing.
Once the baking and the plating are complete, my husband (and occasionally Kathryne’s) will play Santa and deliver all the cookies to the chosen recipients. Last night as we were assembling 30 plates of cookies, I told him he had the best job of all—a point he argued since he has to drive all over God’s green earth hunting 30 houses. But he really does have the best albeit somewhat frustrating task of the cookiethon, because he gets to see their faces when he hands them the plate. To me, that’s the most rewarding moment of all, but since I’m somewhat directionally challenged and an aspiring hermit, I leave the delivery to someone else. The reactions usually range from pleasant surprise to tickled pink to tearful gratitude, but without fail, everyone is thankful that someone thought of them.
When you’re suffering from loss, especially at the holidays, any small gesture that says “I remember” means the world. And it doesn’t just have to be at the holidays. My mother died on May 1, 2008 and on May 1, 2009 a good friend called for the sole purpose of telling me he remembered. I still think of that call and how much thought it took—and how much care it held—and it fills me with a warmth I cannot begin to describe.
You see, it doesn’t have to be some monumental offering, some time-consuming, extremely expensive something-or-other. A phone call . . . a card . . . a plate of cookies . . . anything that says, “I remember. I know you’re hurting and I care.” will provide a light of hope in what might otherwise be a moment of darkness. Too often we believe that the little things aren’t significant enough, that there should be something more, so we simply don’t do anything at all. But it’s often the little things that make the greatest difference—and we all have the power to do the little things.