We came in from caroling, chilled to the bone. Layers of clothing or extra scarves and gloves hadn’t kept the cold out as much as we had hoped.
“Mama,” one of the kids asked, “can we have some hot chocolate?”
“Sure, I answered, “but it’ll have to be made from scratch — we’re almost out of the individual packs.”
“Oh no!” I heard his response. “Yours isn’t sweet enough!”
What a joke! I thought. They like store-bought better than homemade!So I took my time, added more sugar, and stirred it just right. It was judged better than store-bought.
It had better be!
Whoever heard of store-bought being better than homemade?!
I enjoy fixing cups of steaming hot chocolate fringed with marshmallows, ladling it into mugs. I enjoy even more sitting down and enjoying my own cup of winter’s brew. There’s nothing quite like its pulsing warmth flowing into a chilled body.
Watching them sit contentedly sipping their hot chocolate, I remembered being a child. I reminisced how after we had played in the snow all day, we’d trudge inside, beckoned by our mother’s hot chocolate simmering on the back burner in an old pressure cooker kettle.
Our hair hung with miniature icicles, and our cheeks were redder than apples in summer. Inside the house, we’d warm our noses and rub our toes as the sun dipped behind barren trees.
While other children received plenty of playthings for Christmas, we reveled in the snow, one “brand new doll” from Goodwill, and the playmates we had in each other.
We experienced not store-bought, but homemade fun and goodness.
Whoever heard of store bought being better than homemade?!
Store-bought might be swifter, easier, and less time-consuming.
Homemade might be more rugged, less flashy, and less stylish.
Sometimes homemade takes more creativity; it always takes more time. Whoever said efficiency is better than homemade?
Watching them finish the lingering drops in their mugs, I realized how the New Year is like a steaming cup of hot chocolate!
I know the flavor—the excitement, the anticipation, and the resolutions.
I’ve sipped its texture, savored its flavor, and delighted in its newness and warmth.
Yet each cup, each year, is untouched, full of promise and warmth.
Oh that the memories of the years would be as pleasant and as sweet as when I look upon an empty cup, warmed, satisfied, and full!
I know the ingredients for a satisfying cup of hot chocolate: homemade is better because it is real. The same is true for a wonderful New Year!
I know the ingredient for a wonderful New Year: authenticity.
Just like homemade hot chocolate, being real is better. There is nothing artificial about it, and there are no substitutes or artificial ingredients.
Relating to our spouses, raising our kids, and rubbing shoulders with our neighbors and co-workers is better when we are authentic and real. Just like being homemade.
This story was first published in The South Boston Breeze in January of 2000. Later it was printed in the book Southside Glimmers.