Comfort Food

Thursday, after work, I was in Raley’s hoping to find the last three carving pumpkins in existence. I had been all around the East Bay and didn’t see a single one. I saw lovely fairy tale pumpkins, and tiny gourds, but not even Trader Joe’s (who is always so faithful to me) held onto three measly classic orange carving pumpkins.

I called my kids to ask if they could find it in their hearts to settle for puny little eighty-nine-cent carving pumpkins (think, softball sized).

When my daughter answered the phone, I confessed, “I’m a pumpkin failure.”

A flustered woman to my left moved her eyes over the orange wall of rustled last-minute candy. When she overheard my conversation, she looked up at me, and whispered, “I’m also a pumpkin failure.”

I replied, “It’s okay, we’re in this one together.”

As I drove home, I thought about how damned hard I am on myself as a mom – how damned hard we all can be on ourselves as moms. True, my porch was not decorated with cute little dead things in various shapes and sizes like my neighbor’s house across the street (which is inhabited by a woman who is thinner than I am – although I’m convinced she’s also shallower, so there’s the trade-off), but I had my wedding on Saturday, my birthday on Monday, traveled home on Tuesday, worked on Wednesday, and then stopped to find the last pumpkins in existence on Thursday. While that may have made me a pumpkin failure, it also made me some other sort of Wonder Woman, and I’m convinced that the flustered mom on the hunt for decent candy had an equally good reason for her pumpkin failure.

We will never do enough to feel like we’re worthy if we don’t already believe that we are worthy. My kids didn’t get new costumes this year. We put together outfits from things we had on hand. My house did not look like something out of Martha Stewart Living. We had puny ass pumpkins. But we had fun. We ate candy apples. We visited family. We braved a haunted yard.

And while the kids didn’t get new costumes, they did help celebrate and solidify a new family just a few days earlier. There are things that matter, and things that only kind-of matter.

With that, I’ve decided that this month’s theme will be comfort food. For me, that’s what autumn is all about – and why it’s my favorite season. Everything slows down. The air gets crisp, the days get shorter, and we begin the long holiday celebration season. It’s the best.

Comfort food is about connecting; about the feeling of belonging that comes with gathering, or, just being good to yourself and taking comfort in what’s available even if your holidays look very different from almost everyone else’s. It’s about enjoying life, remembering there is good all around you – even if you have to squint hard to see it.



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