The other day, at a park playdate with a friend, I was on the "big girl" swing with N. sitting on my lap, letting go of her just enough so that she could experience the adrenaline rush of a brief freefall, pumping us both high enough so that after she got past the initial uncertainty, her squeals were near-continuous. As we swung into the icy breeze, I couldn't help but notice how the other mother hovered over her child, who was swinging just imperceptibly next to us, and swooped down when her small lip quivered with uncertainty, picked her up and pressed her to her chest.
And then I thought, well, maybe that applies to everyone. If you've ever known loss, it becomes hard to trust again. Joy is a risk. It's a risk because you might connect to something that will be taken from you, or you might never find joy at all. But there must be something about being human that drives us to take the risk again and again, even in the face of overwhelming odds.
Last week, on one unseasonably warm day, I decided to take N. for a walk before we met I. at the bus. We locked the door and picked our way down the steps as toddlers do, and when she hit the sidewalk, N. began to run. And run. "RUNNNNNNNNNNNN," she chanted, punctuating her footfalls with "NNN...NNN...NNN," only to rev herself up and do it all over again, occasionally turning around and saying "Mommy's turn?"--encouraging me to run, too. I decided to follow her, just to see where she went. When we got to a street, I asked her to hold my hand to cross, but otherwise, I made sure she was the one in the lead. I don't know if it was the weather, or if she loved being in front, or some of both, but she ran that way, "RUNNNNN .... RUNNNNNNNNN!" for the better part of a mile, to downtown.
I felt lucky to witness that exuberance, to be part of it. And really, that kind of joy is worth the risk, isn't it?
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
These cookies are an unexpected combination, a bit of a risk on your holiday cookie plate. But totally worth it.
3/4 c. butter, softened
2/3 c. powdered sugar
1/8 t. salt
1 c. flour
1/2 c. cornmeal
2 t. finely shredded lime peel
1/2 t. vanilla
In a large bowl, beat butter until fluffy with an electric mixer on high speed for 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar and salt, and beat well to combine. Beat in flour, cornmeal, lime peel, and vanilla. Cover and chill at least one hour, and preferably longer.
Preheat oven to 350. Roll dough 1/4" thick; using a 2" cookie cutter, cut dough into shapes and place onto a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Decorate with sugar if desired, and bake 8-10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Transfer to wire racks to cool.