How to Be Grateful (Include Scones)
There will be just enough fresh blueberries and Half and Half in the fridge to make blueberry scones on the day you get your second round of braces. “This is happening at the worst possible time,” you say, and I think to ask if there’s a better time, but I don’t because I know it will start a fight, and also because I am exhausted. There’s really no great time to make scones either, but I pull the blueberries and the cream from the fridge, lift the cast iron skillet from the cupboard, and cut the butter into the flour mixture because I know blueberry scones are your favorite, and when you come home, they’ll be here, and I’ll make you hot chocolate or apple cider too.
Concerning dental work, there’s also never a good time for a mouth guard but while I make the scones I wear mine because I haven’t been at night, and when I neglect this annoying practice, I tend to replace it with the habit of clenching and gnashing my teeth and chewing the insides of my cheeks. This results in headaches that feel as if two scalding hot irons are pressing on either side of my head in an effort to push my brain through my nostrils.
It is also not good for my teeth.
So I wear the guard while I make the scones and notice how much depth the dough has when I use cream instead of milk and fresh blueberries instead of frozen, and it feels good to knead, to shape, to slice, and to sprinkle sugar on the tops of the triangles before placing them in the oven to bake.
Many Novembers ago, you and I were on a walk and you told me that your art teacher talks too much.
“She says, ‘actually’ all the time,” you said. “Actually, we’re actually gonna … ” you said, half-humored, half-exasperated.
“Maybe she’s nervous,” I said.
“Nervous? What’s she nervous about?”
I said I wasn’t sure, that maybe she was walking you through a new project, and maybe she thinks it’s too difficult or worries the class will think it’s too difficult. “Sometimes trying something new is a little scary,” I said.
We walked some more and you kicked up leaves, and then said, “When I’m nervous, I think about the future. I think about what I could do in the future, and that makes me brave.”
I did not recall this memory myself. When you said it, I wrote it down in a notebook — a collection of fragments of our days together I didn’t want to let go of. I am grateful for the reminder of this slice of history between you and I, when you showed me once again the many ways there are to be brave. I found your words in that notebook while the scones were baking, and I thought to give them back to you: When things are happening at the worst possible time, when you’re in pain, when you’re trying something new, when you’re constrained, when so much is going on, think about what you could do and let that possibility — the possibility of YOU — make you brave.
The blueberry scones will be fluffy and light brown in 25 minutes, which is perfect timing because that’s precisely when you walk through the door. We sit across from each other at the table, and I think to tell you about our walk years ago, and how you told me about being brave, but we break our scones apart at the same time, and steam drifts from them, and I think to myself, another time as we both watch it rise.
Write your own, “How to be Grateful” essay or poem, even when (or especially when) it’s the worst possible time to do it.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, from all of us at T.S. Poetry. May you find yourself surrounded with friends and family and all your favorite foods, and many the very many ways there are to be grateful. And brave.
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I have been a fan of Callie Feyen’s writing for quite some time but I finished this book in almost one sitting. If you have ever been in 8th grade, fallen in love, had a best friend, or loved reading, you will love this book. As the mother of an 8th grader, my other genuine hope is that my son will one day have a teacher as gifted as Callie.
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