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Emergency Chocolate

It goes without saying that 2020 has been the most confounding year ever. Thankfully, it’s coming to a close and like most of us, we hope better things are on the horizon. For me the year had some exceptionally good things happened and experienced profound sorrow. Like in years past, I try to take stock of the good and bad, reevaluate, and if I deem it necessary, try to make adjustments going forward. That is of course, if it involves anything other than my sweet tooth.

Admittedly, I am a devotee of all things sweet - cookies, cake, pies or good old fashioned candy, especially anything made with sweet, creamy chocolate. It's a major problem, I know, I know! Honestly, I’ve tried going cold turkey to cut the sugar out of my diet several times and clearly without much success. Additionally, I have attempted to modify my habit by rationing sweets, only taking only a bite or 10, to chew each bite slowly, and most importantly save the sweetest and most decadent of treats for when life’s situations become a little too much, and only something sweet will suffice. As such I have been known to keep a supply of emergency chocolate in the freezer. Forget toilet paper hoarding, I’ve had to replenish my chocolate stockpile.

I’m sure I am not alone when I say that this year has been one of the most challenging emotionally. While it was 10 months ago, the loss of my dad feels more conspicuous since we’ve been socially distancing. Still, I count my blessings he went when he did, as we were able to properly honor him with friends and family by having a funeral in person. After his service, my house was filled with food from friends and loved ones. People cooked, sent platters, baked, and set up my house to observe “Shiva” without me lifting a finger. When one sits “Shiva”, the traditional time to mourn, family, friends and those from our community come to your home to pay their respects, say the “Mourners’ Kaddish” (prayer for the deceased) and it is traditional to have food available. The countless number of cakes and cookies brought into my house was not only overwhelming, it was a sight for sore eyes and a wounded heart. After the last night of shiva, the amount of confections leftover was more than my family could possibly consume. In my grief and fixation of all things sweet, I adopted my father’s saying “can’t let it go to waste” and became preoccupied with not throwing anything out. Thankfully, through a much needed sugar intervention, friends repackaged most of the cakes and cookies and brought them into their respective places of work. I did, however, manage to keep a handful of delicious homemade treats by freezing them, holding onto them for my enjoyment or for the ‘in case of an emergency’ scenario. Needless to say those morsels are no longer in the freezer.

While the world came to a screeching halt, I got to experience one of my most profound joys this year by taking part and witnessing my pride and joy, our son graduate with honors from high school in person! The beautiful and meaningful graduation ceremony involved the large student parking lot, a meandering “serpentine Shel serpentine car route, pop up tents filled with teachers and staff strategically placed along the parade route, and a socially distanced ceremony. I was literally a back seat driver, barking directions to my husband while I watched my son’s facial expressions through the side view mirror. It was amazing to see the ingenuity of the ceremony and was humbled by the emotional connection he had with many of his teachers. It was more personal and meaningful than traditional graduation ceremonies, and hope schools will adopt something similar in the future. After the ceremony, we celebrated with a delicious custom made cake, donned with a sugared replica of the Old Well , the symbol synonymous with UNC Chapel Hill, his school of choice. His celebration continued with a few of his friends sitting in our driveway, enjoying a pizza around the portable fire pit. I brought out the cake for the kids to enjoy. The next day, when I had a hankering for a sliver, I asked my son if there was any cake left over. He said “No, I threw it out.” I caught my breath Uhh...what?! IMO a tragic misfortune, and was flabbergasted he would do such a thing.

For 10 months we’ve eaten most meals within the confines of our home. When I do indulge with a sweet treat, I sometimes save a portion of the sweet in the freezer to be enjoyed another day. However, since my son came home from college, and has had many late nights of studying, he would forage in the kitchen looking for something to eat. Those treats I was saving for another day have suddenly disappeared. Normally this wouldn’t bother me, however, one night, after my husband went to bed, I stayed up to watch TV, I poured myself a glass of milk and went into the freezer to get the cookie, the one I was thinking about since mid-day, the best of the best black and white cookie hand delivered by friends from New York, the one I was saving was gone, presumably eaten and enjoyed by my son. The last I checked, he was not on our unlimited, kitchen open at all hours, meal plan.

I am rather embarrassed to say that since that fateful night I have taken additional measures to hide the most delectable in the back of the freezer, buried underneath the frozen vegetables and something solid inside a Tupperware bowl. At one time, the amount of treats stored in the freezer was sufficient including some of the finest Cadbury chocolate from London (from the same friend). A part of me found it comforting to know my stash of emergency chocolate was safe and tucked away in the freezer.

Serendipitously, I received a surprise package on my doorstep on the second night of Chanukah. My work family sent a package of delicious treats containing - you guessed it -my favorites from home. Heavenly moist chocolate babka, not too sweet and savory dark chocolate ruggelach and of course the tried and true cake like black and whites. It was truly a Chanukah miracle. So as this unbelievable and trying year comes to a close, the burning questions I have running through my mind are - do I share or seek counseling?

Happy Holidays everyone!

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Andrew Ginsberg
Andrew Ginsberg
Dec 14, 2020

It seems like years since I had a babka,rugelach, or black and white cookie. My kingdom for a bagel! I would certainly hord it.

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