Monday, March 21, 2011

What Are You Waiting For? Is It Worth the Wait?

Is Anticipation Making You Wait?

By Christine Clark

It seems to take forever for an amaryllis to open and bloom.

Instant or near instant are the watchwords of our always-on, connected, global society. It is rare to wait for a message, a letter, or a phone call. We want instant answers, instant communication, photos and video moments after an occurrence, no matter where or what time it takes place. We want strawberries in January, even if we live a thousand miles from South Florida. We want asparagus in December, regardless of the bland taste of the spears imported from South America. We want apples in May. Out of season? Doesn’t matter. Whatever we want, with few exceptions, can be shipped anywhere in the world, at any time.
Christmas Cactus blooming in December
Who really wants Christmas cookies in June, though? Who wants a table groaning beneath the weight of turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and sweet potatoes in August? Not me, and I suppose not too many other folks. Some things are worth the wait.
A few weeks before Christmas each year, I bake several dozen loaves of Swedish cardamom bread topped with generous amounts of pearl sugar. My family fell in love with the bread at a Santa Lucia celebration about 15 years ago. Since then, my children have called it Lucia bread. Christmas week, 2009, a friend of my son’s ate almost an entire loaf of Lucia bread. In the weeks following, he asked my son if we had any more. “No,” my son said, “she only bakes it at Christmas time.” He continued asking, and one time received this answer: “No man, it’s July. She only makes it at Christmas.” A month before Christmas this year, he asked my son if I had baked it yet. “No, not for a few more weeks,” my son said. When I baked this year’s batch, I rewarded his friend’s patience with an entire loaf. He was thrilled, but he won’t get more until next December.
Amaryllis flowers bloom only once a year.
Anticipating life’s seasonal gifts and celebrations is part of enjoying those gifts. For me, many of those gifts are flowers. I know the spectacular blooms of the amaryllis will captivate me with their beauty only once a year. I can buy bulbs and force amaryllis blooms during Christmas season, but it isn’t the same. My first year back in Florida, I planted amaryllis I had purchased for a pittance during the post-Christmas markdowns. They did not bloom the first year, so I waited, watching the greenery thrive. I started to think I had purchased duds. Fourteen months after planting those bulbs, I spied a bud. Over a few weeks, I checked the bud several times a day, monitoring its progression toward a bloom. When the flowers finally opened, their beauty stunned me! I felt a keen sense of satisfaction. It was worth the wait.
Gardenia bushes delight us with their fragrance only once a year. Lilacs herald spring only in the spring. Christmas cacti, if cared for properly, bloom at Christmas. The best time to gorge on Cadbury Cream eggs is in the weeks before and after Easter. Jolly Rancher jellybeans disappear from the stores after Easter Sunday (and that’s a good thing).

Would a lilac smell as sweet if it didn't herald spring?
A home filled with the scent of bread baking fuels one’s desire to cut through the crust, smear butter across a slice, and taste and eat! Anticipation beckons us to the kitchen, butter softening on the counter. But we have to wait, wait until the bread has baked, and wait a bit longer until it is cool enough to eat.
The scent of baking bread lures us to the kitchen,
where we wait for it to come out of the oven.
What do you await with keen anticipation? Do you ever put something off, just to savor that anticipation? What in your life has been worth the wait? A crisp Macoun (apple) just picked from the orchard on a September morning? A slice of Lucia bread? A serving of Mom’s stuffing on Thanksgiving afternoon? The first crocus of spring? A baby’s first laugh?  A baby’s first step? Graduations in June? Remember to enjoy the anticipation as well as the event.

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