It is shortly after all the present opening hullabaloo, when I look up from cutting peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in half, that I see the look on Vivian’s face. I catch a glimpse of disappointment in her eyes and it is very clearly the look of self pity caused by not getting everything she wants for Christmas.
I know exactly how she feels. I remember the first time I felt the same way. I also remember the shame I felt for being selfish and while I know which feeling is right at her young age, I am still not sure which feeling is worse.
Oddly, I guess with age I have come to have similar emotions about New Year’s.
For instance, each year when I take stock of myself in the time between Christmas and January 1st, I am always looking back in disappointment at the things I wanted to happen but didn’t, the things that went wrong, or the things that I will have to deny myself to make the coming year presumably better. It seems silly.
After all, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to point out to me that I am a very blessed person, and really, I want for nothing. Well, I suppose I could stand to lose a few pounds, and proudly I have lost a lot this year, but a few more wouldn’t hurt. Even so, I don’t really need to deny myself. I just need to eat differently.
It is no different than earlier this year when I found out I am gluten-intolerant. Sure I could fret for hours over never eating wheat again. Or I could continue eating gluten and continue to feel like absolute shit, get migraines, and muscle and joint pain so bad I can’t get out of bed.
Then there is the other option: I could realize there is a whole new world of food experiences awaiting me and because of them I can feel better than I have in years. In other words, a subtle shift in my diet has opened up a new path of amazing and positive experiences.
So I think to myself, why not add only positive things to my life this year? Like what I am going to call New Food Tuesday, where our family makes a dinner with foods we have never tried, presumably something from a different culture so when we are sitting at the table we can have conversations about different countries and how not everyone in this world is exactly the same. How these differences aren’t something to be afraid of, but should be embraced .
I am a superstitious sort. If you were here for the New Year you would find me outside knee-deep in the snow just before midnight holding my empty wallet to the moon. Once the midnight clock speaks its piece I will head inside and eat. In the past it has always been something about prosperity, Hoppin’ John or something like it, but this year it will be something revitalizing, something that purifies, something from a distant land.
So this morning Vivian, Lynn, and I are planning. We go to the globe and I spin it and Vivian sticks her finger on Finland. I know what I want to make, Karelian Borscht. We will be ringing in the New Year on a New Food Tuesday after all.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2cup beets, peeled and grated
4cups chopped red or green cabbage
2/3 cups carrots, medium dice
1/2 cup fennel bulb, small dice
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
8 cups broth, beef or vegetable
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 pound sausage, your choice, Italian and Wiesswurst are nice choices
Lemon slices and sour cream for garnish
1. Melt the butter in an enameled 4-quart Dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the grated beets. Cook the beets until they are tender. Add the fennel, garlic, carrots and cabbage. Stir a few times then add the broth, sugar, bay leaf and vinegar. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. If the sausage is raw, cook it whole in a separate pan being sure to brown the casings nicely. Once they are cooked, remove them from the pan, slice them and add them to the soup towards the end of cooking, and likewise, if the sausages were precooked, slice and add them toward the end of cooking as well. Once the sausage is warm, the veggies tender, serve the soup hot with sour cream and lemon slices on the side.