The adventures of an American lover of all things French...
Saturday, December 24, 2016
It is almost time to say Au revoir to 2016. And Bonjour to 2017. 2016 had some tough days. In life, though, that’s pretty much par for the course, n’est-ce pas? That’s when we learn valuable lessons. It’s when we learn to appreciate the whos and whats in our lives. If we are smart. And then we move on. The sun comes up the next morning. Sometimes it is difficult, if not downright nearly impossible, to let go of hurt feelings, guilt, anger, disappointment, fear– all of those emotions that can bring on a middle-of-the-night panic attack if we aren’t careful. I know. I’ve been there done that. Learning to take deep breaths, forgiving myself as well as those I love, and remembering what is truly important takes practice.
Why is that those who know their days on earth are numbered teach us the best lessons? I hate to break it to you, but all of our days are numbered. Somehow, though, those who live with it daily are the wisest. Chris Rosati. The lessons I have learned from him. Chris has ALS. Lou Gehrig’s disease. Tuesdays with Morrie. Since his diagnosis six years ago, he has taught so many of us how to be kinder human beings. I saw Chris last night at The BIGG Holiday Mashup in downtown Durham.
He was able to put in an appearance at the end of the show. Dressed as Santa, in his wheelchair, speaking through a computer that is somehow miraculously connected to his eyes and types out his messages. Many of his high school friends and classmates were in attendance so it ended up being a big wonderful funny class reunion-type event for me. I taught so many of these “kids.” See, Chris, see what you are doing? Bringing all of us together for the Big Idea for the Greater Good. A lesson I promise to put into practice in 2017.
So, instead of reflecting backwards, I will reflect forwards. Think of the all the potential that awaits us in 2017. The BFF doesn’t like odd-numbered years, but I have assured her that the coming one will be filled with Goodness. Kindness. Pure joy. Hmmm…. How do I know this? Because I am in charge of how good, kind and joyous I will be. And so are you. There are indeed many, many things that we cannot in any way, shape or form control. Why focus on those? Instead, let’s focus on what we can control. Our own attitudes. Our own behavior. Terrorists will not keep me from traveling to my beloved France. The political leadership in my own beloved state and country will not keep me from hoping that good will come from this somehow. Because we can band together and “kill them with kindness” as Mama Mildred has been known to say.
My 2017 will include the following:
Kennedy’s birth. My first grandbaby. I already get teary-eyed just thinking about her.
Finding new ways to show kindness and helping others do the same.
Spending more time with my family, be they in Charlotte, Spruce Pine, Washington, Brevard, High Point or here in Durham. I am incredibly lucky. My sons, a soon-to-be daughter-in-law, mama, sisters, in-laws, cousins all close by.
At least two trips to France. January (20 days) and March (76 days). Ah oui, I do indeed count it down. Every time I board the plane it feels like the first time.
Showing my friends how much I love them. I am lucky in this respect, too. I have some amazing friends who love me no matter what.
Joie de vivre. I am very fond of this French phrase. Love of life. Joy in living. Ed the Head, used it in 2013 to describe me when he presented me with the Hershey Award. I laughed with him afterwards as I complimented his French pronunciation. I vow here and now to show this joie much more often.
Self-improvement. At home. In the classroom with the kiddos and my colleagues. With me. More walks, more quiet time, good books, good music, good food, more writing.
A good place to start. And I think I will get a week’s head start on some of those. Pourquoi pas?
I will leave you with a recipe to make immediately (or as soon as you can assemble the ingredients) and share as gifts and/or make for the family and friends who will come a-calling. A big bowl of deliciousness. I fell in love with them the first time I tasted them at a foreign language meeting. Our Latin teacher is quite a cooker. She shared the recipe. Merci beaucoup, JL.
1 pound unsalted pecans
2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh rosemary or 1 tsp. dried
2 Tbsp. melted butter
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne or black pepper
Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Spread nuts on baking sheet (I line mine with parchment paper.) Bake 10-15 minutes- 15 minutes for crunchier nuts.
While the pecans are baking, combine all the other ingredients in a large bowl and mix together. Add pecans while still hot and toss to coat.
Serve warm or cold. Store in tightly closed container.
Bon appétit to all and to all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Here’s to 2017!