Look at these beauties, which represent the work of four of us who have been friends since the beginning of time, or at least for the last 30 – 40 years: Marilyn, Roberta, Sylvia and I. Only Barb couldn’t join us. Everyone brought dough for one or two kind of cookies to my house today and this photo shows what happened after that. (And later in the day, adding to our bounty, Claudia, a friend from another circle, dropped by with cookies she had made).
When she arrived, Marilyn said she had mentioned our planned cookie smackdown to Cecile Andrews, a mutual friend and author whose publications focus on living simply, but then, knowing that Cecile did not bake, she added, “Oh, but this really wouldn’t be your thing.” Apparently Cecile disagreed, saying, “Yes it is, because you’re talking about doing something that builds community.”
On a now-out-of-date blog, Cecile wrote, “Our ultra individualistic tendencies have made us ignore the importance of groups. Now happiness research is showing that people who have strong social ties are both happier and healthier. Again, it seems like common sense, but we don’t seem to pay attention to things in this culture until the academic researchers pronounce that something is so. The true test is that we must begin to act on this knowledge by not only helping to form social networks but by creating a culture that brings people together.”
As someone with a very small family, Christmas is not my favorite season. I don’t get depressed, but I don’t get excited either, because December has never been able to live up to a Hallmark Channel Holiday Movie Event, in which all the actors are filmed in a dreamy, soft focus while they’re out finding true love, peace, and happiness, usually as a result of being reunited with a huge family.
The ToDo Institute newsletter speaks of a related issue. Like other spiritual counselors at this time of year, editor Greg Krech shared tips for readers on how to avoid the holiday blues. (Since you must be a subscriber to read the article, I’ll just list a few of them here.) So far so good in terms of my heeding their advice, some of it, anyway. I didn’t get caught up in shopping mayhem, which was recommendation one. I just went out in November and bought presents for myself. Until today I was following the second recommendation: “Keep your sugar intake low.” So now I am pondering tips seven and eight. Seven is to “reflect on your good fortune.” This takes me back to Cecile Andrews’ notion of community. My good fortune is to be part of various communities, especially the community of friends, who drove some distance today to bake cookies with me and work together on a picture puzzle. The last tip is to “focus on the present.” In describing this, Greg Krech said, “We may be helping to cook some squash for dinner, or playing with our niece in the snow. The present moment is our real life.”
He’s right, and on that note there’s nothing like the present to go sample another cookie.