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the importance of icing cookies

In a crowded show room in Ikea, a timid female voice over the intercom suggested a minute of silence for Remembrance Day. The muzak was miraculously muted. All the shopping carts rolled to a respectful halt amongst the storage solutions. I stood hand in hand with my curious daughter and gazed at all the generations, the races, the sombre faces, standing respectfully in their organized aisles. Each of us were holding our Hemnes and our private thoughts about peace and war. A distant toddler whinnied, unsure why his mother had turned to stone.Unknown

And then, around the corner, wheeled one middle-aged man on his phone. One solitary loud mouth, striding past the wall of mirrors, belligerently yacking about some Bill, some Jack, some meeting in some hall. My eyes shot red hot lasers into his beige bomber jacket and singed his overgrown neck hairs. How dare he interrupt my reflection on peace! His violation made me violent. And this old flooding warmth, like urine, filled my heart. Oh yes. There is nothing much more satisfying than self righteousness. I haven’t felt this smug since I was a Pentecostal teen handing out tracts about hell and the pope being the anti-Christ at my Catholic school during lunch.tumblr_mjmlcmCm8b1rsblalo1_250

I have a cousin, he’s young. I think of him as tender-hearted, earnest and dear. He’s prairie. He’s getting married to his sweetheart. And much to my dismay, his Facebook wall is filled with anti-immigration, inflammatory anti-Muslim propaganda and posts from Right Wing America. And this was before Paris.I was tempted to say something, of course, being horrified. But instead, I simply wrote under one of them, “why?” There was no answer. Just one small like from my brother.

Earlier this week, Facebook friends were reminding each other, “it isn’t just Paris”. Some taking it further to accuse sympathizers of only caring about the west. There is also a public on-line conversation about cultural diversity. It was morning. I was shoving cold brown rice, avocado, lemon ginger and cayenne pepper down my throat. Small steps towards lowering my cholesterol. I dashed off my two cents, frankly, too quickly. Anyway, when I got home after a long day at work to perhaps edit what I wrote, a colleague penned a lengthily response, calling me privileged and basically, a racist. You know. Instead of just writing me personally, having known me for over a decade. I suspect it was pretty obvious I meant the opposite, but it gave this person an excuse to have a great night out with the trumpet.images-1

I change outfits and head to work again: hat number three. I’ve been auditioning for this casting director for years and he still calls me, “Loo…see..ah?” with a crinkled brow. I’ve given up correcting him. I get in the room and I slate. Once again, the client winces at my ethnic name, annoyed that he has to even think about how to pronounce it. The woman beside me has a wicked long Polish last name but her first name is easy and she’s a beautiful young blonde with rock hard assets and she’s doing a great job. And that’s fine with me. I’m not that role. I’m the “ethnic/Spanish, not a model, 40s-50s Mom” in the middle, “who suffers from indigestion”. I go home and work on my lines for Mrs Santa Claus.

The next day, Fellow and I have a rare fight. I am absolutely sure I am in the right. We’re speaking “civil” to each other in front of the kids but they are shifty eyed and quiet as we patronize each other. We’re both working too many jobs and tired and concerned about housing and money. You know, like the rest of Vancouver. And then we have to go to church. Great. I dread the passing of the peace. It interrupts my self involvement. A small man in a brightly embroidered vest takes the pulpit. A guest. I don’t have patience for a guest. I really just want to hear my dear familiar and articulate Dan.

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The guest’s face is a copper penny. He talks about growing up during the civil war in Guatamala as a Mayan, and living with the poison of hate inside his body for both the Americans and the communists. He talks about letting go and forgiving, but not forgetting. He speaks about not allowing hate and fear to consume us, particularly in light of the Paris killings. He challenges us: this peace and tolerance starts in the home.

I hear every wise word. I am busted. I run my hand along Fellow’s thigh and he threads his fingers into mine.

After church I dash off to rehearsals again. Mrs Claus has a revelation about the importance of baking cookies with the family. The secret ingredient is the love shared. Hm. Not a bad idea. When I get home I suggest we make gingerbread: a little early in the season but why not? I whip up the batter and roll and press, Fellow times, the kids drop colour into bowls of icing and meticulously design. Nora does a very intricate bride and groom ginger pair. The other child trims a perfect tree and then some kind of red furry blob creature. Fellow makes his gingerbread man into Van Gogh’s “The Scream”. I do star after star after star, while we all hum along to Michael Bublé, the boy from Burnaby.12246611_10153621257205943_3866970751878738565_n

Once we put the kids to bed, we ice a few more between us. I do a gingerbread family portrait while Fellow does a kind of 70s looking brown and yellow star.

I know on some level we have to address the argument but a “talk” is often the least helpful way. So, we snuggle into bed, give thanks, and pray.IMG_3177

 

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4 comments

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  1. Renita

    So much about this that I love. Thanks, Lucia. “Not allowing hate and fear to consume us.” “…but a talk is often the least helpful way.”

    Thanks LooCHIa.

    1. Lucia Frangione

      my love to you, Renita! xox

  2. Cheryl

    Thought provoking – and too rarely do couples (or friends, or enemies…) realize the simple truth that shared being, in silence or in humming to Buble, can heal far more deeply and elegantly than yet more words. Cookies for all.

    1. Lucia Frangione

      xo (and sometimes dog biscuits)

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