What a crazy couple of weeks in late December. Like you said, Eve, much of it was happy and festive. But having Mom in hospital for almost a week with pneumonia over the holidays shook me up, maybe more than it should have.
Sitting with her in the hospital around lunchtime on Christmas Day was the worst part. Not because her condition had deteriorated. The antibiotics had started to work and she was getting better, well enough to be leaving the hospital in a few days if her progress continued.
For me it was that although she’d dodge this pneumonia, she won’t ever be herself again. Nothing like she was before Alzheimer’s struck. This isn’t news, of course. She hasn’t been herself for years, to the point that I doubt she knows who any of us are anymore.
I thought back to Christmases when I was growing up, when Mom was such a force. The one who was busy for weeks with shopping, baking, staying up late wrapping presents. She pulled everything together to ensure that we enjoyed Christmas, whether we were ripping open the carefully wrapped presents under the tree or tucking in to a feast of well-loved dishes that we had only once a year.
This Christmas Day, when I sat with her listening to Elvis’ Christmas Album (she always loved Elvis) and trying to get her to eat, I felt extra sad about all we had lost over the past several years.
We’re almost two weeks into 2013 and I still feel a little tired from the holidays. We’ve packed away the decorations, consumed most of the Christmas baking and gotten back to regular routines, more or less. But part of me wants to keep some festiveness going in January. Maybe it’s to make up for the blur that was the last half of December.
Or maybe it’s to keep appreciating some small special things every day, because one day they might be gone.
Right now pomegranates give me that festiveness. Way too exotic for my childhood, and not something I eat throughout the year, pomegranates have retained a luxurious, holiday-season quality to me. (It helps that the seeds are juicy and slightly tangy, a perfect way to wake up my taste buds after weeks of buttery shortbread cookies.)
I’ve found this method of removing the seeds, whacking the halves with a spoon, to be effective. It’s a little fun to do, and a harmless way to let off a little steam. Take that, you pomegranate!
Sprinkled over a simple arugula salad (and I’m desperate for green salads after so many heavy holiday meals) with feta and walnuts, the refreshing ping of pomegranate seeds bursting in my mouth is fun, and makes me a little happy. A little post-holiday cheer that’s especially in order this year.
Pomegranate balsamic vinegar might not be in your pantry but it's worth getting. It's slightly tart but has a lovely sweetness that lends itself to numerous dishes, like chicken or pork. Get some -- you won't regret it!
- a few handfuls or arugula leaves
- 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
- 2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
- 6-7 whole walnuts, toasted
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate balsamic vinegar (I used Cuisine Perel brand
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
- Pour the pomegranate vinegar into a small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk in the olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Place a handful or two of arugula leaves on a plate. Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds, feta and walnuts. Drizzle a few spoonfuls of the vinaigrette over the salad.