Love is on the way, actually
I sat in the backseat all the way to Renton on Thanksgiving Day, over the river and through the woods, heading for dinner with friends and cradling my pie.
It was a tricky pie, a lot of ingredients and complicated directions, by which I mean I shouldn’t have even attempted to make it.
Give me an elaborate recipe – or any project that requires more than three steps – and the end result is usually unclear and accompanied by interesting use of language on my part. It’s really not something you’d want to observe.
This one turned out reasonably well, fortunately, which is why I kept it balanced on my lap for 30 minutes. A pothole can ruin a pie almost as easily as I can, so I was taking no chances.
Pies are troublemakers anyway, coming preloaded with fat and sugar, carbs and enough calories to power a small country. There’s also domestic strife to consider; that last piece of apple pie in the fridge, the one that has “breakfast” written all over it?
It turns out somebody else got hungry late last night, and now attorneys are involved. It hardly seems worth it, sometimes.
But pies are part of our heritage, as a friend from Scotland pointed out on Thanksgiving. We mulled this over for a while, our American preoccupation with pies, talked about pioneers and Norman Rockwell paintings, but mostly we just accepted that pies were a goodness, traditional, cultural, and not up for debate.
They are, in fact, a perfect Love Actually selection.
As some of you might recall, I instituted the Love Actually Project about this time last year. “Love Actually” is the name of a 2003 film, written and directed by Richard Curtis, featuring an ensemble cast with multiple interlocking stories.
There are actors in it who fit into the heavyweight category (Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Laura Linney), some who make this sort of movie a staple of their careers (Hugh Grant), and some personal favorites of mine (Emma Thompson, be still my heart).
It’s not a great film by any means. It’s a holiday movie, a little seasonal fluff, a few funny moments, layers of sentimentality (including cute kids), a little raciness and nudity to remove it from the conventional Christmas fare, a bit forgettable and also utterly predictable, particularly if you watch it every year.
There are far better Christmas movies, classic and more contemporary.
And none of this matters to me, since it makes me feel good to watch it every Christmas. I picked it up in a Blu-Ray bin a couple of years ago for that reason, and understanding its flaws and mediocrity changes nothing. You can’t argue me out of liking this movie, and you shouldn’t waste your time trying.
Last year, then, I offered up “Love Actually” as an example of something that transcends critical thinking, something that’s purely for pleasure, for the way it makes us feel. And I asked for your suggestions.
I got them, too. My inbox was stuffed with goodness, ranging from recipes to aromas to music to memories stirred by the sight of lights on a neighbor’s house. I got to wallow a little in the pleasure of your company, and your pleasures, and I’d like to do it again.
‘Tis the season, after all. As we count the days until we start adding more light, as we keep an eye out for snow and try to decide whether we want that or not, as we bundle up and venture out to be bombarded by advertising and the most painful song any of us are likely to hear (it features drums and a boy, that’s all I’m saying), many of us are tempted to find comfort in familiar things, and be glad for that. This is what I’m talking about.
The ground rules are simple. This is not a “guilty pleasure” list; whether or not you’re guilty is your own business. These are pure pleasures, and they don’t have to be cheesy ones; if Handel is your go-to guy this time of year, that’s perfect for our purposes.
If, on the other hand, you’re a gourmet cook 11 months out of the year but come Christmas you need to make your mom’s meatloaf or mac and cheese, this is a Love Actually item, definitely.
It also doesn’t have to be oriented toward the holidays, the solstice or the weather, although we’re all in this together and fireworks on the Fourth of July maybe should wait for another list.
Whatever it is, though, that you yearn for, look forward to, return to when you need it, or hide in the back of the refrigerator with breakfast on your mind, I’d like to hear about it.
Email me at HYPERLINK "mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" email@example.com and share some of your favorite things with the rest of us. Food, film, movies, moments, whatever.
I’ll report back in a couple of weeks with the results, reserving the right to use your first name unless you beg me not to, in which case I’ll think about it.
And if it’s pie, know you’re in good company. If it’s a song about a little drummer boy, maybe keep that to yourself.