I just got finished reading a (relatively vapid, not-so-scientific, largely subjective, fluffy) piece about how I might, according to the article, be “happier than I think.” It proceeded to list a number of “carefully studied” factors that apparently contribute to the degree of happiness of any given individual, and if you have all of those factors, well then, you’re just darned happy, whether you realize it or not.
Silly, silly article, of course. But I read it anyway, because frankly, even just the title made me smile. I AM happier than I think, really. I’m actually a happy person by nature — my father was known to say, when I was younger, that “B.’s just happy to get up in the morning.” In my adult years, especially the recent ones, there have been more trials and tribulations, and a few particularly trying tests of my faith and perseverance, and there have been times when no, I have not felt happy. And nothing could have convinced me that I did. But darn it all. I hereby stake my claim to the fact that, those times notwithstanding, I. Am. Happy.
Clearly, if you’ve been reading this week, you understand why this is an important line in the sand for me to draw right now. You’ll also understand why I can’t have this moment of declaration without sharing a story about my deeply perceptive little L.: about 8 or 10 months ago, I was in a place of serious self-doubt, and generally not thrilled with the state of things. Almost daily, I wanted to have that conversation with Life in which I could say “Well, now you’re just trying to be difficult.” (To which Life would respond by sticking its tongue out and running off to create more mischief.) I still tried hard to keep it from permeating the home life and affecting my kids. But one day, out of the blue, L. walked up to me, laid his hand on my knee, and studied my face. “Mommy,” he said philosophically, “It’s okay. You can be happy.”
Talk about a punch in the emotional kidneys. That was the day that I said to myself, “Forget what you think you know, forget what you think you should do, and just do something ELSE. Move on to another way of life.” I did. I’ve been better off for it. We’ve ALL been better off for it. I mean, okay, it’s not all sunshine and tulips and parades, but I feel like myself again, and when I feel like myself I am happy. Despite doctors. Despite referrals. Despite work stresses. Despite whatever.
So today I am celebrating being happy, and being happier, even, than I thought I was, because that relatively stupid article had the effect of at least making me pause and think about the reasons for my happiness. It only took a minute to come up with enough of them for me to then realize that I have so many reasons, large and small, to be happy that I can’t list them all, and I don’t have to list them all, and I can just count myself among the lucky ducks of the world and move on with life. Thanks, stupid article, for that refresher course.
As always, though, you know I’m going to move on to thinking about food, and that’s what I assume all of you are here for — this is, after all, a food blog, at least of sorts. Hooray for sticking to original intentions. I’ve got a fun “getting everyone fed” challenge this weekend, too, which is contributing to my overall Happy Happy Joy Joy theme of the day: my best friend, C., and her husband, J.W. (whose lifelong friendship I also should not diminish) are rolling into town tonight with their twin boys. We don’t get together nearly often enough, lives being what they are, but it should be quite an experience to have their 15-month-old boys together with P. and L. (Keep your fingers crossed that the house is still standing by Sunday morning.) Their visit is also well-timed; I can’t think of a weekend that is better suited, emotionally speaking, to having two of my best friends in the whole world right beside me.
Even better is the fact that these people are such good friends that I don’t have to stress out about feeding us all. I don’t have to worry about tastes and preferences (after nearly 20 years of friendship, we’re pretty familiar with dining together). I don’t have to worry about being impressive. I can just BE. So we’re doing the relaxing thing, I’m taking the easy route with everything, and it’s going to result in what I can only describe as Happy Food.
What constitutes Happy Food, this weekend? Tonight, it’ll be a dinner just for the grown-ups — their arrival will be a bit awkwardly timed, in regards to feeding kids and so forth, so they’re feeding their guys on the road, and we’ll give ours an easy meal at the usual hour. Then we can let the kids play a bit and get them all to bed, and the four of us can sit down to a (civilized, quiet, albeit late) lasagna that won’t take much time and effort to make and can be ready whenever we are. L. has also expressed to me that if we have time, he’d like to make some chocolate-chip cookies to share with his “baby friends,” which is how he refers to the twins, so that may happen at some point today or tomorrow. Tomorrow night, we’ll make quesadillas for everybody, with a bunch of different fillings to satisfy all the tastebuds at the table, and some salsa and guacamole and maybe some easy salads alongside. That’s happy party food, easy get-together food, please everybody food. And J.W. and I have hatched a scheme (which we’ll have to revisit, based on the atomically and unnaturally hot weather forecast) to try our hand at making homemade apple cider donuts for everyone, a nostalgic nod to our Upstate New York childhood. My kids have never had one, I realize, and maybe Happy Food also means sharing old food memories with them.
It’s not much of a plan. It’s humble stuff, really. But golly, am I looking forward to just sharing even the simplest of lazy, simple dishes with people I love. I am Happier Than I Think I Am, and I feel like celebrating with some Happy Food.