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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chocolate Therapy

I've been doused in chocolate lately. It's literally everywhere. There are chocolate fingerprints on fridge doors, on the washing machine, on lightswitches around the house. I try, believe me, to keep things centralized. To no avail. Thankfully, I finished the job. Eighteen dozen bon bons have been wrapped and delivered.

I hemmed and hawed about making anything at all this year. I talked myself in and out of it many times. I had many reasons not to. Since I'm not working, my household budget has been cut. I figured making Christmas goodies was the first "luxury" that should be eliminated. We'd already agreed with everyone in the family that there would be no gifts this year. Money is tight all around. The kids were really okay with it. We worked out a deal that under our own little roof, the five of us would just do stockings. For the first time ever, ABC would pool together and fill Charlie's and my stockings, and we would, as always, do theirs. I loved that idea. No big gifts and no lists to fret over. So when it came time to think about doing the annual goody baking and such, I thought I would let that go by the wayside as well. That did not happen. Charlie actually asked if I was ready to go to the store and get supplies. Wow.

Truthfully, this year was different than years past. It wasn't a drudgery. I actually loved doing it. I thought I'd "simplify". I'd do the thing that would provide the most product in the least amount of time, take up the least amount of space, and be the most cost-effective. I THOUGHT that would be bon-bons. Okay, so I'm not a marketing strategist. I didn't say I'd do the thing that was the least labor intensive. I THOUGHT that's how it would be. It obviously didn't turn out that way. I doubled the recipe on my bon-bons and ended up with more coconut filling than I'd ever seen. I'm literally insane. Last year, I would have cried over my folly. This year, I sat happily at the table and got to work. At the end of the day, I looked at the trays and trays of bon-bons everywhere and smiled.

I finished dipping on Monday. On Tuesday morning, I packaged and delivered. I thought, on Monday, when I and my house were covered in chocolate, that THAT was my therapy. I giggled through it, with Caris and Bry watching over my progress on and off throughout the day. But really, the therapy was yet to come.

Over the years, because I have been working, I usually had the kids help me deliver the packages to friends and neighbors. It was the method I used to stay within my time budget. If I delivered them, it usually meant I would have to stay and chat awhile. I just didn't have the time for that. If the kids delivered them, there would be happy smiles and the obligatory "Tell your Mom thanks!", but the kids wouldn't be expected to stay around and visit. This year, because I am not working and the kids ARE, I took on the job of Herself the Elf.

Tuesday morning, I carefully packed the boxes of chocolates into thermal cold bags. The weather was mild, in the high 60's, low 70's, but I knew that in the car, the chocolates would be at risk, so I wanted to be safe. It turned out to be the smartest decision I made all week. At my very first stop, what I envisioned would be a quick drop-off, ended up being a 2-1/2 hour visit.

I went to the home of one of the Grommet's friends. His Mom was my recovery nurse after my gall-bladder surgery in March and she took such good care of me after the fiasco I'd been through. Of course, we'd been friends before then because of the boys, and I adored her. Even though I told her that I had a bunch of other deliveries to make and I had chocolates in the car, she begged me to come in if only for a few moments. How could I say no? She instantly opened her candy box and bit right into a bon-bon. We talked. Well, she talked, I listened. In the last year, her husband had been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's and was now on disability. She'd gotten laid off in the summer. Their eldest son, Bry's friend, had come home from college away to help his mom. She still had kids at home, the youngest was 13. A difficult year indeed. Before I knew it, the bon-bons were gone and nearly three hours had passed. It was pretty obvious that she had needed to talk. I enjoyed the visit and was in no hurry to leave. I knew the candies in my car were fine. If she needed a shoulder, I was gonna provide it. It wasn't until SHE noticed the time and said.."Oh Gosh, Pua! I should let you go!" that I made the attempt to leave. I couldn't help feeling that whatever burden I thought I had was so incredibly light.

My next stop was Bry's other friend who is home recuperating. I knitted him a beanie and scarf which I hoped he could use until he gets "fuzzy" again. I packaged that with a book of oddities. The kind of book a 20-year old who is stuck at home would find amusing. And of course, the chocolates. I knew that he probably wouldn't be eating much while going through chemo, but his parents might like them. I left the package on their porch because I didn't want to intrude. Within 15 minutes, on my way to my next stop, Grommet was calling me to tell me that his friend had sent him about six texts in a row about the package and how awesome it was. "Tell your Mom the chocolates are da bomb!"

As I drove away and headed to my next stop, I thought to myself how wonderful chocolate is. That's probably not the thing most people would think first thing, but it's what I was thinking. I wasn't going to do this. I wasn't going to make any attempt to make or bake this year. Therapy comes in all forms. Some of it is more expensive than others. Sometimes, it's theraputic to be the shoulder, or the listener, or the bon-bon roller and dipper.

This morning, I saw the chocolate fingerprints all over my kitchen and I smiled.