Maybe this year, instead of distilling this beautiful life into shooters of thankfulness for daily Facebook consumption, what if we actually share our gratitude, not just our descriptions and defense of it?
Maybe we can honor the people and situations in our lives in a way that brings no recognition to ourselves. There is no harm in receiving a pat on the back or an “atta girl!” for recognizing that we have so much to be thankful for – but does the search of those things not tarnish the sincerity of our thanks?
Does my friend in Alberta appreciate knowing how much I appreciate my barista in Raleigh? Can my former co-worker in Iowa feel the blessing of my love for family, near and far? I suspect that it is only I, the common denominator – who benefits from the daily chore of social media displays.
Every person I know wakes up each morning and stares down one demon or another. And sometimes, we all blink. But what if, starting now, we also face everything that is good and is light? Let’s look the person or situation squarely in the eye and say, “I see you, and I thank you.” And then, we stay still without squirming long enough to give back – whatever it is we have to give. An ear, a cup of tea, lunch, or a lifetime of companionship.
I’m betting that in the absence of recognition or praise for merely stating our gratitude, we will find the real meaning of gratitude. And I’m betting we all have people who will be thankful we did.
I’d known Mike for two years already, but our courtship was in its infancy; he was still pretending to like spicy food and I was pretending I had the capacity to give a shit about corporate Christmas parties.
He’d asked if I had any interesting recipes for the dessert competition being held in his office, and I suggested my Satan’s Food Cake. It’s a scratch-made chocolate cake that bites you back. He told me the name wouldn’t fly; many of the co-workers hold bible study several mornings a week. I told him to call it whatever he wanted, or just pick up a box of Krispy Kreme. In hindsight, I probably wasn’t holding up my end of the pretending all that well.
He feigned some ignorance and I offered to help him with a test run on the evening before his birthday. It went well, up until we burnt the cake because we were out in the driveway kissin’. I still blush when he tells the story, mostly because he changes it a little bit every time, but depicts little old me as the aggressor.
In the six years since, we’ve stopped pretending a lot of things. Next week we mark the third anniversary of when we stopped pretending we weren’t going to get married. On most days, that one still blows our minds.
We won’t be burning a cake in celebration this year because he’s turning fifty this week, too. There will be plenty of better, unburnt cake to be had. If you’d like to not burn a cake along with us, I recommend the recipe below.
Satan’s Food Cake 1 ½ cups Swans Down cake flour
1 cup sugar
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon Mexican chili powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup cold water
¼ cup canola oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Madagascar vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients with electric mixer until smooth. Pour into a greased 8 inch round cake pan and bake at 350 degrees, until done (about 25-30 minutes). Remove and cool on wire rack. Glaze 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
½ cup cocoa
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 fists full of strawberries
When the cake has cooled, whisk together everything except the strawberries. Pour the glaze over the cake, and use the strawberries for decoration. They don’t have to look demonic, but it’s a nice touch.