I received a most unexpected holiday gift in the mail this past week. I will tell you the story, which starts when I was a eleven years old and my family moved to a house on Kingston Avenue in Schenectady. Across the street from us lived a Greek Orthodox family with three children, all younger than I. My little brother befriended their son Emmanuel, whom they called “Manόly,” and the boys played together often. Manόly taught him how to ask “Where is Manόly?” in Greek, because Manόly’s grandmother, who spoke no English, looked after the children a lot of the time and she was always home. The only problem was that when she answered my brother to tell him where Manόly was, she answered in Greek. So he couldn’t understand her.
My brother remained more friendly with this family than any of us. I barely knew them. Last year, I became friends with the eldest daughter in that family, Dena, on Facebook. We had both commented on one of my brother’s posts and we wound up becoming friends. We talk to each other a couple time a week now on Facebook and we share a love for cooking. Here comes my holiday gift.
Last week, Dena posted photos of the luscious baklava that she had made (sheets and sheets of it) for the holidays. I was drooling over the photos on Facebook, even though I don’t eat gluten anymore. (I swiped her photo to attach to this blog.) A few days ago, Dena sent me a message on Facebook to say that she couldn’t resist sharing her baklava with me, knowing that I, too, am a “foodie” (love to cook, love to try new recipes, love to eat healthy food). So two days ago I received a box of homemade authentic Greek baklava via express mail. I really don’t eat gluten, but a gift like this, well one must make an exception. I ate a piece (saving the rest for my children) slowly, savoring it to the last drop of honey.
Dena's baklava and turkey soup cooking on the side.
I love the holiday spirit, that brought me this treat, from this woman whose life has now intersected mine again after all these years. I find it extraordinary the way our lives intertwine and wrap around one another, arcing away and bending back. How can we ever know who will disappear from our lives forever, who will return after years lost, who will enter tomorrow and stay with us through thick and thin? How can we know that homemade baklava is in the mail for us from someone special, someone new, someone generous, someone from our distant past, someone reconnecting?
Have a wonderful holiday season y’all. I’ll be enjoying time with my children – all of them coming home, and this year we have Akili’s fiancée with us for Christmas for the first time. Life is as sweet as baklava.
[Excuse me if I don’t blog next weekend. I might take a week off.]