Jenna’s an average baker. Nothing too fancy or complicated works for her. And she doesn’t really need to do much baking because Jim’s Bakery is downstairs from her apartment. Jim and his wife Rosa are of the same Slovakian descent as Jenna, and they’ve pretty much adopted her as their own since Jenna’s parents live in Arizona. As a result, Jenna is gifted with a regular supply of breads, rolls, and other ethnic treats that Rosa places in a small basket at the bottom of the stairs. Jenna reciprocates with things like gift cards, candies, and a pretty geranium plant that Rosa finds a place for in the front window of the bakery.
When a winter storm is predicted to hit NYC, Jenna decides to make chocolate chip cookies as part of her emergency ration plan. She finishes baking them before the power goes out, which she kind of hoped it would. Snowstorms are fun and exciting when you’re tucked away safely at home. And the power does go out for about three hours in the middle of the night. But the storm has also dumped a lot of snow on the city, grinding it to a standstill. So, Jenna is stuck in her apartment with a big batch of cookies that she can’t (or shouldn’t) eat herself.
Do you make a gift of baked goods to a baker? Turns out, Jenna knows this recipe by heart, and they turn out every time (assuming she follows the directions correctly). Chocolate chip cookies are not offered for sale by Jim’s bakery, and Jenna isn’t sure when they last had any. She decides to wrap some up and put them in the exchange basket at the foot of the stairs. When she gets there, she finds a small loaf of rye bread – which will make an awesome grilled cheese sandwich if she has any cheese in her fridge. The bakery is closed due to the storm, but the chilled entryway will preserve the cookies until Rosa retrieves them.
The basket at the bottom of the stairs is so much more than a place to give and take food. It’s a receptacle for a giving heart, a place to show love and concern, and a way to stay connected. The regular deposits and retrievals let the other know that you’re okay and still coming and going. It’s a way to say “hi” or “hope you’re okay” without saying a word or showing up in person. Preparing and giving food is a way to tell someone you love and care about them. It really doesn’t matter what it happens to be – rye bread or chocolate chip cookies. The message is the same.
Until next time…