this morning, i make sand tarts. or at least i try to make sand tarts. i've tried them before, over several christmas seasons, and i can never quite get them right. but this time, it's important.
at christmas, a long time friend always made sand tarts and gave boxes of them as presents. thin and crisp, light and buttery, they fast became my family's favorite. come december, we would anticipate their arrival and then save them for christmas eve with eggnog; they were that special.
in the last weeks, she has gone, my friend, moving far, far away to begin a new adventure. this is the week she travels to her new home, solo and by car. while i am so excited for her, and i admire her bravery, i also miss her already and am sad that our friendship will be different now.
so this morning while she completes the last leg of her journey, i am with her as i make her sand tarts. i quickly roll the dough and cut it with my tiniest cooky cutters, trying to replicate the ones she's made for me in the past. remembering not to re-roll the dough, i cut the trimmings into rectangles with a knife. as i fill the parchment covered baking sheet with stars, hearts, and snowmen, i wonder where she is, and when she will arrive. i wash the cookies with egg white, i dust them with cinnamon and sugars, and i think about snow and pray she doesn't encounter any. while the sand tarts bake in the oven behind me, i stare out the window and let thirty years of memories wash over me.
the timer goes off. the sand tarts look good. as i move them to a cooling rack, her message comes. she has arrived, and safely. i can read the joy and excitement in her words. i catch myself smiling as i finish baking the cookies and, when i'm done, i sit for a few minutes with a cup of tea, sending good thoughts and best wishes to my far-away friend, and enjoying an almost perfect sand tart.
the weeks since thanksgiving have flown. i find myself with too much to do yet i'm unable to get out of my own way. as much as i don't like winter, i'm almost looking forward to the calm that is january! but life is good - and so am i.
at the end of november, every year, i give the little girl an advent calendar, as i did her mother before her. she takes it home, hangs it in her kitchen, and opens a window each december morning, counting the days until christmas. it's tradition.
our other december tradition is observing the little girl's half-birthday. in the past, i've just mention it to her, but this year, given her increasing knowledge of fractions, i mailed her half of a birthday card. she thought it was funny.
early on the morning of her half-birthday, after i sent a happy half-birthday text, the girl sent me this photo of the image behind the advent calendar window for that day. again, the little girl thinks it's some sort of grandmother-magic.
over the weekend, the little girl was here, helping to decorate the christmas tree. although there are many, many ornaments to choose from, she chose every single one that her mother had made in school or admired years ago as a child. this christmas, the tree borders on tacky, but i like it.
as i was rearranging a few tonight (to make room for the ornaments i like!) i noticed these three red birds, neatly arranged on the bottom branches. i called the little girl to ask about it. she told me yes, she put them together on purpose, because she thought it looked nice. kind of like a flock, she said.
i live & take pictures & attempt to write here in northern new england, usa. if the pictures are too small for you, just click on them and they'll show bigger. and if the writing is too cheesy or mundane for you, just move on and find yourself another blog to read. i won't mind. no hard feelings. truly.