It’s 11:15 p.m. and I am being ridiculous.
I’m baking a cherry pie. Again. My third annual attempt at some mediocre homage to my dad’s Christmas Eve tradition of making a cherry pie just for Joe’s wife, Beth.
I can’t even say it was Vivi’s idea this year. She did mention it several times, even earlier today, but the day got away from us and she’s already asleep but I’m here waiting for the timer to ding.
I don’t know how to make pie. The filling is two cans of Comstock and the crust is Pillsbury. I didn’t even attempt to weave the lattice top crust this time. The letter “B” that I carved into the top crust started out looking clever and now looks like a hemorrhage.
It’s not even like Beth has no other sources of cherry pie. I know that Uncle Mark made Aunt Beth a cherry pie this summer when they came up for a visit. I saw the pictures on Facebook. I heard the reviews from Joe. Mark’s crusts are flaky miracles of French lard and Irish butter and salt from Tibet. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the cherries are hand picked by earnest graduate students in the highly competitive stone fruits program at an Ivy League college. The man knows pie.
I am not the best person for this job. In our family, I’m not even in the top FIVE best people for this job.
Why can’t I let it go, this tradition? Brett told me to bring asparagus but I’m going to show up with a cherry pie.
Maybe it’s not even about the pie, or Beth, or me, or Christmas Eve. Maybe it’s because when I reached into the utensil drawer to find a brush to do the egg wash (Pillsbury is FANCY), I had to dig past Richard’s dumpling press, Daddy’s pastry cutter, and Grandmama Eunice’s biscuit round. Every one of them a better cook than me. Every one of them gone now. Every one of them left me a tool I don’t know how to use yet.
And I’m almost 50. And it’s almost midnight. And tomorrow is Christmas Eve.
I even thought that if I started writing this I would find the answer.
There’s no answer, only the doing. The half-assed, broken-hearted attempts at showing people how much I love them. Learning to show up, even with gifts that aren’t quite what I hoped they would be by now.
Messy, mediocre, and still ridiculously sweet.