I love the smell of maple in the morning!
OK, so I don’t *actually* smell maple this morning, but the good folks of $Dayjob are inticing us to attend a Town Hall at 8:30 am with Egg McMuffins™ of various descriptions, so there might be something maple-y there. Don’t worry, the bacon is thawing in the sink at home as we speak, and I’ll be making myself pancakes for supper. I mean, it’s not like I have 2 gallons of Canadian Maple syrup that I’m trying desperately to use up. You know what kind of dent one cup makes in a gallon container? Negligible. So when I search the internets for “Maple Recipes” and they give me something with two whole tablespoons, I feel like my google-fu is definitely lacking Or the googleverse is just not up to the challenge. Or the universe is mocking me for buying two gallons of syrup at the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, and then participating a maple syrup fundraiser for another 1 liter bottle. I think it’s the latter. But I digress.
We’re in the final strokes of the pre-Lent prep, and today’s menu clearly states Pancakes, here we go. Mardi Gras provides a final opportunity to celebrate before the Fast/Pray/Give cycle for RC kids gets underway for realsies. Today is the final day of Carnival. We all know the origins of the day – we eat pancakes because Once Upon a Time, folks needed to get rid of their oil and rich foods before they headed into the fasting period of Lent. Carnival actually means “Flesh Leaving” or, time for us to not indulge in meat. Now, it’s turned into a day or weekend or whole week (or longer, even) of crazy over-indulgence, because we can. Through the year, there are always flush, celebratory times interspersed with lean, reflective times, and the balance of those times is what sometimes gets out of control.
A year ago, my family was ramping up (re-ramping up?) the Sunday Soup Night. We gather, on a rotating schedule, for soup, (usually) roasted chicken, a vegetable, and a salad. We added “nibbles” before hand – with a block of pecorino peppato or aged provolone cheese and a knife, and a little dish of olives. Over the summer, we gathered earlier and revelled in the good weather on someone’s patio. We had adult beverages and a bite to eat, in case anyone got peckish, as good Italian hosts do. We realized before Christmas that the person on appetizer duty was preparing a pre-meal meal. It was out of control and we were all spoiling our dinner. We realized this and we appended the Official Soup Night Constitution to remove appetizers. If the person hosting wants to go back to our origins with a meager offering of “nibbles” of cheese and olives, that’s their prerogative, but no more giant charcuterie boards and/or 4 boxes of frozen puff-pastry appetizer samplers.
La Famiglia di Swears was able to look at how we indulge in places where we didn’t need to, and we course-corrected. There must be other places where I can put in some checks and balances to rein in overindulgent behaviours, right? I know that for me, one of the places is at the movies. I’m not hungry, but when you go to the theatre, you get popcorn, so I get popcorn. There’s a theory that when something that should be a treat becomes status quo, it doesn’t bring you the joy you think it will. If I always get popcorn at the movies and I justify it as my treat, but it’s stopped being a treat and now it’s just an admission add-on, then it’s not as joy-bringing as it originally was. And if it’s not joy-bringing, why am I doing it, again? And do I really need to watch the syndicated show that I’ve seen in reruns eleventy thousand times? Probably not.
May I be aware of the places where I indulge and don’t really need to.
So, as I stand on the precipice of Lent, the reflections might as well start here. May I find a good balance of indulgence and austerity in heart, mind, and deed. May I appreciate the joy that is my family and my community, and may we all come out the flipside of this time of year better people.
But today, may the pancakes be fluffy, and the syrup be plentiful.