we’re all going to the same place anyway

It’s never wise to grocery shop without a list 20 minutes before the store closes. And yet there I was, throwing acorn squash and chili beans in my cart in a mad dash to the only cashier left in Aldi.

As I rushed up to the check-out line at three minutes until 7:00 p.m., an older gentleman and his wife were also attempting to get into line. He was a small man with a loud plaid suit coat, a fedora, no front teeth and a neck that desperately needed a shave. His wife’s cart was relatively empty and so, as you do at Aldi, I told him, “You go ahead,” gesturing toward the cashier.

“Are you sure?” he asked in a thick New York accent.

“Of course,” I responded.

Then I said eight fateful words: “We’re all going to the same place anyway.” Continue reading

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i’ve got my sriracha to keep me warm

You’re stuck inside. It’s cold. You’re basically hibernating. And snacking.

Warm up. Heat up.

Give in to Sriracha. (No sweaters, Valentines, or Etch-a-Sketchs required.)

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Step one: Buy Sriracha sauce from Wal-Mart.

Unless you hate Wal-Mart.

Then I don’t know. You’re on your own.
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Step two: Buy salt from Aldi for less than 2 quarters.

Love Aldi.

Live Aldi.

Be Aldi.
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Step three: Use about a half cup of salt to 5  tablespoons of Sriracha.

This salt isn’t for wimps, you know.DSC_0577

Step four: Stir them together and spread them out to dry for 2-3 days.

Be forewarned: Your kitchen will smell like spicy Asian food. This may or may not be a good thing, depending on whether or not you like, well, spicy Asian food.DSC_0578

Step five: Stir it around every few hours, and when it’s finally dry, wrap it up in a towel and go to town with your rolling pin, just to make sure it doesn’t clump together too much.

Determine whether or not it’s too cold to air out your kitchen.

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Step whatever-number-it-is-we’re-on: Bottle it up, reserving at least a taste for yourself.
DSC_0596Give it away next Christmas, next Valentine’s Day, for no apparent reason, to the man who ran the snow plow down your street, dumping even more snow in your driveway and making it virtually impossible for you to back your Honda Accord out, and to your husband, who just shoveled that same snow out into the yard  for the eighth time since yesterday so that you could get to the grocery store.

To buy Sriracha.

siracha

of foamy lattes and 17 wheelers

breadUnfortunately for all you foodies, this post has nothing to do with bread. Actually, my Pinterest feed is blowing up with mushy evangelical Advent blogs–you know the ones I’m talking about: with pictures of beautiful wreaths on the front door and little girls with snowflakes in their hair beckoning you to ask Jesus into your home to sit by the hearth this Advent–so I thought I’d try to play along. Because you know me. I’m always one to try to fit in with the cool kids.

Blegh.

This is actually a bait-and-switch, because while wreaths and my first attempt at a harvest pumpkin chocolate chip bread ARE pretty ding dang specatular, we need to talk about something else during the holidays: taking care of the single people in your midst during Advent and Christmas.

Don’t tell me! I already know: You’re sick of hearing about single people. Well, strangely enough, they’re sick of hearing about married people. They’re sick of your Instagrammed pics of heart-shaped foam in your coffee and your Facebook album of cutting down your Christmas tree with your husband and shmoopy First Christmas decorations.

It doesn’t mean they’re right. They’re just tired of hearing about it. They’re tired of hearing about how you have what they want. And during the holidays, every feeling they have about being single is growing like Mark McGuire’s biceps on steroids.

That’s why I’m proposing that instead of us all being sick of each other, we take care of each other. Families, invite the single people over. Single people, go. Families, don’t invite them to the event where there’s 47 other couples there. It’s intimidating and the singles won’t go. Single people, get tough. You’ll get through this.

Families, meet them on middle ground. Instead of having them over for supper where they’re going to feel like they’re being interrogated under bright lights by the CIA, ask to meet them at a coffee shop where everyone’s on unfamiliar ground. Singles, you have time for coffee. Just do it.  Families, if you do invite them over, ask them if they want to bring a friend. Singles, they’re being nice. Don’t hole up at home.

Take care of each other already, ok? You know you can do that.

Just, please, don’t make me blog pictures of steaming cocoa while trying to find a tie-in to the Incarnation. That’s all I ask.

One final thing: Singles, this Christmas, you’re going to feel a heck of a lot better about the suffering you are enduring if you do three things: (1) Pray. The Lord answers prayers. He hears them. So don’t pretend to be a valiant martyr. Tell Him you are alone and that it stinks and that you’re totally over being single and that if you have to be the 17th wheel at one more family Christmas, you are going to blow a gasket. He will understand. (2) Love. Take care of the families around you. Instead of waiting for someone to ask YOU over during the holidays, invite people over yourself. There is great joy to be had in taking care of those the Lord has placed in your life. (3) Toughen up. Being alone during the holidays isn’t a pleasure trip, but the Lord will see you through. And you can be resilient. You can choose not to spend your entire Christmas break snapping at your mom and bemoaning the fact no one in your family understands you. Because they do, and they are sorry you are hurting. So, straighten up, little soldier. It’s going to be a wild 8-second Advent/Christmas ride.

Go hang your wreaths. Drink your foamy lattes. Be happy. Be sad. Eat pumpkin bread with wild abandon. And as you do, remember the Body of Christ, singles and families, all around you. They are yours to care for, and they can and do bring you great joy, and that’s worth blowing up Pinterest over any day.