Traci Anello

Food is art


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Seeing Christmas again

The previous several years I’ve owned my own business and also helped others. The holidays are a time for work. It’s the big season before the worst quarter in the food industry. So Christmas was always on the back burner.

I remember when my daughter was very little, I didn’t even realize I was down to one shopping day. It was Christmas Eve and I’m at Toys R Us doing my shopping. Now don’t think I didn’t care. Far from it. I was just working ridiculous hours. I ran through the store with my shopping cart and racing the clock wearing a chef coat. I couldn’t help but ask the clerk if I was the only one shopping like a mad woman. Luckily, she said I was one of many that day. I wondered if there was a club for working mothers like myself but then again, when would we have found the time.The good news is she got some really nice gifts that year. I always got her the most creative things. Fast forward 15 years and we are at the bakery working late on December 22nd. My daughter turned to me and said, Ma, we never got a tree this year”. I did a quick panic and then called a friend who was selling trees. He said there are three trees left and to help myself. It was raining and we drove down to his restaurant and saw three pathetic trees leaning against the building. Fighting back tears because I felt as though I failed another Christmas, she says the right thing, “Mom, we saved a tree. It’ll be beautiful”. When she was little, we would go to the tree place and find the most pathetic looking tree. It was small, bony and almost lifeless. I taught her that we can take this tree home and show it some love and it would be the most beautiful tree ever. Every year we did this. And now this particular year, she was teaching me. We brought the tree home and it was very beautiful. The staff at Mike’s got the biggest platter of homemade brownies as a thank you.

Now after being in food service for almost ever, the holidays become a source of work and quick naps. It was always a little tough to enjoy. So this year I decided no tree. It’s just another holiday and I have to work.

Then it happened. I walked past a patient’s room and saw a beautiful little tree all decorated. It was incredible. It made we walk into a small room and cry. I thought about how wrapped up in working all these years to actually stop and enjoy Christmas. I dreaded shopping and working every year. But this person wasn’t shopping or working. They were in a bed, in a room with their tree, just the two of them. I thought about it and decided this year I will buy a small tree, decorate it and listen to music. My daughter was happy to hear I bought the tree. She asked if I would wait and decorate it tomorrow with her. She wants to makes some appetizers, listen to music and tell stories. I’m thrilled. I was just going to sit and have a glass of wine and get through the holidays. This patient changed all of that for me. This person without being aware of it, made me think about what Christmas means to me. This person helped me to stop and smell the roses. Those roses. I’ve been missing that opportunity all along.

Tonight I walked through the store and decided that I wanted a Victorian tree. My home is Old English with beautiful art work both from well known artist and my favorite local artists. A Victorian tree was perfect. Tomorrow I’ll post some pictures of it when it’s done.

I was seeing Christmas again. For me, it’s not about the shopping or receiving gifts. It’s about love and peace. This year has brought me a great source of love, peace and happiness. That patient gave me the most perfect gift this year. He gave me the gift of Christmas and what it really means.

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