December 27, 2009

Smiling Eyes

Today marks 467 days in limbo.

It's also the day after Christmas.

The kids and I, we had an awesome Christmas morning full of magic and hugs and a ginormous holiday breakfast, with pretty much everyone's favorites - pancakes for the diva, fruit smoothies for my redhead, and a truckload of sausage and bacon for my protein-starved Aspie. Then, the three of them went cheerfully off with their dad for dinner. They're staying with him through the weekend, so I am sitting here quietly, appreciating the lights on the tree and the chance to sleep in.

This is my second single-parent Christmas, so I'm a little more used to coping on my own. While we didn't get our tree up until Christmas Eve - I'm blaming the East Coast blizzard for that - I did manage a few other things. We baked cookies, including my favorite eggnog cookies. I ordered holiday cards and got them in the mail before the New Year. (That's a personal best, by the way - I once sent out Christmas cards with hearts and shamrocks on the envelopes.)

And, after a few years off, I made calendars.

These are photo calendars, a kind of year in review that I have made, on occasion, for my family. Most of these folks are pretty far away, so the calendars were a nice way to bring the kids into their day-to-day. I'd take the best pictures of my kids from the past year and put them in, month by month, with each month capturing the kids from exactly a year before.

And so, I built my calendars. January, and my diva's 7th birthday. April, with the cherry blossoms in Washington, DC. Our trip to Seattle last July and August. Snow in December.

And I saw something.

Last January, the kids were pensive, sad, with smiles that didn't quite reach their eyes. February, March, it's more of the same.

By summer, though, you start to see a change. A twinkle, sometimes. A real smile or two. And by fall, it's crystal clear. The kids are not just smiling. They're happy. Really, really happy.

And I'd never have noticed if I hadn't laid all the pictures out like that, chronologically.

This level of change, with the separation, and soon (I hope!) the divorce - it's not easy, even if it's for the best. But I'm so so proud of these little people. They've come through it. They held hands and they hugged each other and they got through it.

And they're happy. Really, really happy.

Know what? I am too.

So here. Have an eggnog cookie on me :-)

Eggnog Cookies*

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (even better if it's freshly grated)
1 1/4 cups white sugar
3/4 cups butter, softened
1/2 cup eggnog
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks
1 tbs ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 300 F. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well with a wire whisk and set aside. In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter with an electric mixer to form a grainy paste. Add eggnog, vanilla and egg yolks and beat at medium speed until smooth. Add the flour mixture and beat at low speed until just combined. Do not overmix. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets (parchment paper helps), 1 inch apart. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg. Bake for 23-25 minutes or until bottoms turn light brown. Transfer to cool, flat surface immediately with a spatula.

* Thank you, Mrs. Fields!

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