Monday, December 17, 2012

Tea for One: Gingersofts

I got through the weekend pretty well, all things considered.  The events at Newtown have continued to weigh heavily on my mind.  There was a birthday party for a friend in my son's class, and seeing all of the children together made me think about those children who don't get to celebrate any more birthdays.  And those parents whose arms are empty, who wrapped Christmas presents to give to a child who will no longer be there on Christmas morning to open them.  But I tend not to grieve in the form of tears until a few days or weeks after something happens.  It's just the way I work.  And besides, I still have my children.

But this morning, after putting my son on the bus, I almost threw up.  And then I wept, walking back to my house with my daughter in my arms.

Because the reality is that every day I watch my son leave on that bus, and am faced with a complete lack of control over what happens to him.  It's nagged at me a little bit every day since the first day of school.  It was just a little harder than usual today.

I could keep him home.  I'm home now with my daughter; I could homeschool him.  He's smart, and though he also resists instruction and correction from me, we would make it work.

But that's not where he belongs.  He's a social child, a child who expresses his creative self best in the company of others.  We have a good school system.  And horrible things happen everywhere, in many places that are supposed to be safe, not just in schools.

I could enroll him in a private school, a smaller school where there would be more vigilance, more safety measures, less intrusion from the outside world.

But I'm a product of the public school system, and I believe in the value of children from all walks of life learning together, and teaching each other.

I could drive him to school every morning, at least removing one more transition during which something could go wrong.

But he loves the bus, he loves that freedom.  It makes him feel grown-up.  He is probably no safer in my car.  And I trust the bus driver to get him to school and home safely.

So I put him on the bus.  I wave at him through my tears, as he presses his face against the window, grinning in his inimitably impish way.  I try to put things in perspective, feeling lucky for the luxury of waving to him.  I remember, as many people have said, that the risk inherent in becoming a parent is that you allow your heart to walk around outside of your body.  I make ginger tea, because that usually helps to settle my stomach, and maybe I break into the container of gingersofts.  And I wait for him to come home, watching the minutes tick by impatiently.

I didn't want to write about Sandy Hook today.  But it also seemed irreverent to write about anything else.  So I will settle for comfort, for the normal of Christmas cookies.  Because there is more than one way to die in this world, and one of those ways is to refuse to live.  And the children of Sandy Hook deserve a better legacy than that.

Gingersoft Cookies
adapted from Two Peas in their Pod

2 1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cloves
Pinch of nutmeg
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. light brown sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1/4 c. molasses
1/4 c. diced candied ginger
White sugar for rolling

Preheat the oven to 375 and line baking sheets with either parchment or silicone baking mat.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices in a medium bowl.

Beat the butter and brown sugar at high speed with a hand or stand mixer until fluffy, about two minutes. Add in the egg and vanilla extract.; beat well. Add in the molasses; beat well.

With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture a half cup or so at a time until all of the flour is mixed in.  Mix in the crystallized ginger either VERY gently with your mixer or by hand.

Roll dough into tablespoon-sized balls, and roll each ball in white sugar.

Place the cookie dough balls two inches apart on prepared cookie sheets.  Bake 8-10 minutes (they should still be soft, just cooked in the middle and barely crispy around the edges).  Let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for a minute or two, then transfer to a cooling rack.
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  1. Hugs and love to you, my friend. As always, you find a way to choose the right words.

  2. I have posted this twice now, on FB. But what has helped me immensely over the weekend was some words attributed to Mr. Rogers (I have not researched them).

    "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world." -- Mister Rogers

    I think the only thing we can do is love our children deeply, be compassionate to others, and look for - and be - helpers. It's the best we can do.

    Love and hugs to you. I hope the ginger helped.


  3. We make the same cookies, and they're my son's favorite. I've never heard them called gingersofts before, but that's a much better name than gingersnaps. As you know, we are trying to cope with the trauma here too. It's hard with teenagers, because they understand the facts and the risks and the fear. Sending you love, and raising my cup of tea along with you.

  4. "There is more than one way to die in this world, and one of those ways is to refuse to live. And the children of Sandy Hook deserve a better legacy than that."

    Yes, there is and yes, they do.

    Beautiful post J. And those cookies look delicious! My maternal grandma always made of version of them, but called them Gingersnaps. I actually have some homemade Gingersnap dough in my fridge right now that Abby and I will be rolling and baking this later this morning. Very nostalgic and yummy too!

  5. You are so wise: "there is more than one way to die in this world, and one of those ways is to refuse to live."

    And still, I have no problem living my life, having a wonderful time, actually, but I've not been able to write any of it up yet.

    "It also seemed irreverent to write about anything else."

  6. Homeschooling crossed my mind too, but Babe would really be at a disadvantage socially and she sooo take after Boyfriend and his shyness. Lame. We donated money. I can't really wrap my mind around it, I'm not strong enough.

  7. I love this post. there's a lot of wisdom here.

    my daughter is still just in preschool but she loves it so much and she's so social she would never be happy at home all day.

    and I make a very similar version of these cookies and in fact just made them the other day (with a LOT of love) for my daughter's teachers. they're triple ginger though -- I add some fresh grated ginger with the ground ginger, and I'm pretty liberal with the candied ginger too. LOVE them and make them every fall/winter. with the ginger and cloves they are so warming, so GOOD!

  8. Just catching up now but I was with you that morning in my own act of faith putting the boys on the bus. Thanks for expressing it so well. Hope you're doing okay.


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