Today is the feast day of Santa Lucia; for more on the spiritual aspect of this holiday, see this post on my theology blog.
Today I am making the bread that I started making in 1980. Bon Appetit ran a cover story on holiday breads, and Santa Lucia bread was the first one that I tried. My mom and I went shopping for saffron, which was $16 for a few strands. Shocking! So I made it with alternate spices. If you want to bake the bread, I created a blog post that takes you through it step by step.
I am making this bread in the smallest oven I've ever used, and I've had some small stoves in my living spaces. I may be baking bread all morning, since I can't fit multiple loaves in the oven. But it's a great morning for that. It's chilly, so I don't mind having the oven on all morning.
I thought I would need the whole morning to work on my research paper for my Pastoral Care and Counseling class. But I read it this morning, and frankly, I'm not sure there's much I can do to make it better. Hurrah! Yesterday I discovered that a whole section I wrote on Sunday was missing, but happily I was able to rewrite it easily. Still, once again it makes me distrust the computer. Grr.
I still have lots of grading to do, but I was also able to get some of that done yesterday. I'll just keep plugging away. I have time.
It's strange to think how close I am to the end: the end of my term as a seminary student, the end of my semester teaching online classes, the end of the year. And yet, I'm not there yet.
Long ago I shed the parts of the holiday season that make it most stressful. I do only the decorating and the baking that I want to do. We don't do much in the way of gifts anymore. So far, I can manage the holiday grief that sometimes comes when I think about people who are no longer with us, the past holidays that I miss, the children (including me) who have grown up.
So in some ways, my Christmas is a bit more minimalist this year. I decided not to put the ornaments out. I won't bake cookies, particularly not the ones that need to be rolled out and cut into holiday shapes.
This year, though, there are some elements I haven't had in past years. It's chilly, downright cold! I know that I may get tired of cold weather in months to come, but right now, I love it. I love walking through the beautiful neighborhoods around the seminary, enjoying the decorations both in the daylight and in the dark, when the lights shine. Yesterday I went to see the therapy dogs; the seminary brings them to campus several times at the end of a term to offer some self-care and stress relief. I wasn't feeling the same stress that the end of the term sometimes triggers, but it was delightful anyway.
Sunday, while I waited for my sister to come for the Zoolights trip we had planned, I made this Facebook post: "Someone in an apartment above me is singing "Jingle Bells," either to a child in the apartment or to a child on a Zoom call. I know because it's being sung in that slow way that you sing to a child who has never learned the song (yet). I am enchanted."
I continue to be enchanted with my seminary life, small stove and all.
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