Thursday, December 29, 2011

Counting Down

The ending days of this waning year have been piling up, one on top of the other. We are down to the dregs of 2011, and I for one am ready to put the year to rest. This has been an exhausting year at any level. Margo and I were discussing the year over coffee just yesterday, exclaiming at the fact that so much happened worldwide that has already faded from her and my daily consciousness: the Japanese tsunami, the Joplin tornado, the Arab spring. I wondered aloud whether they had faded because of the nature of news (in that we are always moving on to the "next" story), or whether they had faded because, on mental overload constantly, I let more and more slip through my fingers.

Back in the old days, when I first started practicing law in a small firm here in town, the last two weeks of the year were always a hectic time. Clients always rushed to get done in the last two weeks of the year what they should have done earlier, very often related to gift or charitable giving for tax purposes. Files would pile up precariously on the conference room table; staff members would be rushing to get copies made or documents corrected; lunches were discouraged. But in the midst of the rush and chaos, there was always that exquisite moment when the senior attorney would announce, "that's all we can do this year. We'll start again after New Year's. Close the doors."

I want to say that in my personal life. "That's all I can do for this year. Close the doors."

I worked this morning until early afternoon. Out of hours for the week, I then walked home. I am done at the office for the rest of this year, a luxurious sounding phrase if there ever was one. I just mailed off the Christmas boxes to Ben and Alise and Sam. I have nothing on my schedule, nothing of my calendar, nothing calling my name until 2012.

Close the doors.

Two updates from 2011 blogs. (1) I have not yet found my grandmother's popcorn ball recipe. I didn't even make popcorn balls this year - not because of the loss, but because of time and being too rushed on too many fronts. (2) Back in August, I predicted that our local legal clinic would see over 250 clients for the first time in its eight years of existence. Indeed, the Andrews House/Delaware County Bar Interfaith Legal Clinic saw and provided services to 254 clients (including a Wills Clinic that served 16) in 2011. By comparison, we served 206 in 2010. That's a 23% increase in one year. While deeply sorry to see that record set in terms of the community difficulties, I am proud to be associated with the many volunteers who make the Clinic happen month after month.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Recipe

"I can't find the popcorn ball recipe."

Warren looked at me as we ate breakfast this morning. "I'm sure it's here."

You would think so. But no, I have searched through the recipe folder and checked a few other spots where I thought it might be, and come up empty-handed.

The recipe, which was the one my beloved Grandma Skatzes used every Christmas for years and years, was printed on a 4x6 index card. I have carried that card around with me for some 25 years.  Across the top, I had printed "Skatzes Popcorn Balls."

And it is not here. It is not in the folder where I tuck recipes, it is not stuck in a cookbook, it is not on a counter in the kitchen.

It is gone.

After Warren left for the holiday concert rehearsal, I came back home and googled "popcorn ball recipes." No, I don't want one with marshmallows in it. No, I don't use molasses. This was a water, sugar, and corn syrup concoction. After several minutes, I zeroed in on a few recipes that sound darn close. Until and unless the recipe card shows up, these will do.

The new recipes will do because when it comes right down to it, the magic of my grandmother's popcorn balls was not  in the eating, although they were pretty darn good. The magic was in the smiles on the faces of family members when it was popcorn ball time and they stopped in at Grandma's to pick up their sack of goodness. The magic was in the love Grandma put into every batch she made. The magic was in being allowed to spend the day by her side, burning our fingers from time to time, listening to her stories.

The magic is in the memories.