I have a gift for you today. It honors 2020 and invites you to something important in 2021. It finally dawned on me this morning; as I toggled between preparing altered holiday traditions and readying myself for the year ahead. Before telling you what it is, I have to admit I am feeling a bit like the father in the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. You may know the character. He is prone to saying that every word has a Greek root. In my case it is transition. I see transition everywhere although I stop short of squirting Windex on all surfaces. Transition’s lens into this moment offers something important. You won’t want to miss it for one simple reason. It leads me to you.
Let me start by acknowledging the sorrowful statistics that characterize 2020; they equate the number of U.S. lives lost in the pandemic to those lost on the battle fields in World War II (Test of our Lifetimes, Kristof, NYT, 12/11/20). For many, these losses are close to home. For others, they take a different form; like a reduced or eliminated paycheck, the absence of close social connections, the continued scourge of hateful discrimination, and more.
Amidst all this heartache, 2020 gave us a rare chance. We glimpsed ourselves in silence, without the shields that can block us from the sun. These moments occurred as we suspended activities that once filled our days. Some were activities that fueled our spirits. Other were activities hoisted upon us by the expectations of others.
What did you see in those moments? How did you fill your time? What did you dream about?
Transition is a process that invites each of us to make authentic connections to ourselves.
In 2021, transition invites you to reach for who you are. Be informed by the silence and take steps in your own direction. If you do, I can guarantee that you will open yourself up to a richness beyond measure. It sounds so self- aggrandizing. It is the exact opposite. Transition occurs when ‘who we are’ and ‘how we make meaning in the world’ shifts. Society loves us to believe that those shifts have to do with a new job or a stunning achievement. It can involve all of that. But what it always involves is a shift away from expectations of ourselves set by others, and towards expectations of ourselves set by us. Those willing to lead with ‘who they are’ unlock their voices, a force in all of us whose power and energy is capable of changing the world.
To honor those we have lost in 2020, I share the recipe below as my gift. It is from a very special person, Mrs. V., whom we lost to the pandemic. She was my next door neighbor growing up. Every Christmas night, Mrs. V. would invite the neighborhood for dessert, an event for which she baked for weeks. I remember vividly her delight as my father graciously sampled each and every dessert. Today I thank her for her willingness to share who she was with all of us.
TEXAS Sheet Cake, circa 1970:
- Combine 2 c sugar, 2 c flour and 1/2 tsp salt. Set aside. In a saucepan, bring to a boil 2 sticks butter, 1 cup water, 4 Tbsp Hershey cocoa unsweetened. Beat two eggs, add to the saucepan mixture. Add 1/2 sour cream, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp baking soda. Add saucepan mixture to the dry ingredients. Pour into a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Cook at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.
- While cooking, bring to a boil 1 stick of butter, 4 Tbsp cocoa, 6 Tbsp of milk, 1 box of confectionery sugar (approx. 3.5 cups), and 1 tsp vanilla. Pour over warm cake and let sit. Cut into squares before serving.
May you welcome 2021 and throughout it be willing to let others see all that is you. One thing I know for sure, a grateful world awaits all that you choose to share.
Warmest wishes for a safe and happy holiday season.
p.s. email address is firstname.lastname@example.org (tough last name: 2 s’s and 2 t’s).
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