We have a bookshelf. Still. A good friend of mine wants to replace her bookshelves with ebooks, and I can see her point. Books are big, they take up space, some have horrid spines with tatty edges. Perhaps she dreams of filling that space of old paper and dried glue with something more . . . well, more.
We don’t buy a lot of books anymore. I borrow from the library like an addict seeking their next big hit. Buying a book feels more like an investment – will its physical presence pay off in the end?
And then there are books you want to buy for everyone you know and that guy down the street because, obviously, their bookshelf is deficient and paltry without it.
Our book club’s first selection was John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. It’s epic while being so very simple. It’s a tearjerker, a laugh-maker, a thought-creator all in one. It’s about love and death and disease, but even more so it’s about life. You’re forced to look at how you treat life and the lives of those you know and don’t. It explodes the question on how we deal with death while we’re alive and if our lives are filled with a life worth its deserved weight.
It’s all kinds of wonderful and I was ecstatic that it was our first choice.
However, no matter how many ideas, thoughts and cookies I brought to the table, I can’t share it adequately when no one shows up.
One person did come, and I tried not to reveal my true fanaticism about this book or else scare her away, but in the end I was still left with an abundance of thoughts and cookies. (Is a club still a club when there are just two?)
I made sugar cookies and snickerdoodles because not only do they make the holiday that much more sparkly, but they’re my grandmother’s favorite cookies. She would always have a pile of them at her house on Christmas and we would be allowed to eat as many as our sugar-blitzed stomachs wanted.
She’s in her 80s now and hasn’t cooked or baked for a few years since my grandfather died. We aren’t quite sure why she stopped cooking, but it was one of the first things that would become a part of the list of symptoms we would later see. Holidays are still full of home-cooked meals and desserts, but they’re brought in by the rest of the family.
Her cookie recipes weren’t exactly special. She wasn’t adventurous, either, with her cooking and preferred to do things exactly by the book. But while her cookies wouldn’t win a blue ribbon, they won a place in my memories forever. They’re what make me feel like Christmas is here, that the world is that much cozier and that for one sugary, spiced second, it’s all okay. They remind me of warm houses, tall trees, bustling noise and bossy relatives. They remind me of smiles, laughs, and the thrill of being at grandma’s for Christmas.
Which is why I’m packing them and sending her a tin of cookies and cocoa this year. It’s alright that I didn’t share them with others at our club meeting. It’s okay that I’ve stuffed myself with memories sprinkled in sugar. It’s all okay because in the end, it’s my grandmother who’ll open a box full of Christmas.
(And The Fault in Our Stars? It has a permanent spot on our bookshelf.)