The holiday season is one of the few times a year certain to give me pause. Inevitably, there is a moment when, hanging an ornament or wrapping a gift, I wake up to the present. For a short time, I am able to sink deep into life as it happens.
Honestly, I cannot understand why I so wholeheartedly believe that this is, indeed, "the most wonderful time of the year." It is difficult to avoid being caught waist-deep in consumerism and greed. Still, there is a sense of expectancy, dare I say hope, and a rare awareness of our interconnectedness. The stranger in front of you in the Starbucks drive-thru pays for your coffee, the business woman clearly on a conference call holds the door open for you, the teenager smiles. We buy gifts to place in bins, trusting that they will be distributed to children in need. We serve at soup kitchens, we willingly buy a coffee for the homeless man on the corner. Cookies are baked and distributed among friends, co-workers, and our favorite baristas.
There is a part of me that wants to analyze the holiday spirit of cheer and giving as a function of believing that the things being bought, given, and received will finally, once and for all, quiet our insatiable desire for satisfaction. This year, these things, these gestures will fulfill us, they will make us feel needed, wanted, whole.
But, I don't know. I think that there is something much deeper at play in these few weeks. And I think that it has much more to do with the sense of expectancy I mentioned earlier. Hope bubbles up from deep within, revealing itself in short bursts of laughter, uncontrolled smiles, the impulse to give, the childlike delight upon seeing Christmas lights. We understand, if only briefly, that there is more to human existence. And, surprisingly, we find this treasure hidden in the simplicity of light, generosity, love, and joy.
This year, it seemed that I would not wake up to the beauty of the present moment. I could not let go of my grumbling, discontent, and exhaustion. Until this:
Yesterday, all was well. The Christmas tree was in place, snow was falling, and I was home with Jordan, the dogs, and Thurman the cat. Although I was having a lovely day, I was unable to rest in its embrace. But then, I held a pomegranate. I turned it over and over in my hands, marveling at the rich health hidden beneath its red skin.
Have you ever wondered what it must have been like for the first human to discover a pomegranate? Can you imagine her tentativeness as she worked to split open the round, red object, perhaps with a stone? Imagine her awe as she pulled apart the pieces, revealing tiny jewels, glistening in the sun. And then she would taste the arils, tart and sweet. (I can only imagine that this person would have further delighted in her continued existence, having not eaten a poisonous fruit...)
Thousands of years later, the pomegranate still inspires awe.
And, here I am, in the present. Savoring the moments as they happen.
Let's be honest. The practice of savoring the present is most easily accomplished when cookies are involved.
Friends, I invite you into the season with this cookie recipe. I will not pretend that these are healthy by any stretch of the imagination, but at least you will be taking in some antioxidants as you indulge. And, my dears, you will indulge. Deep chocolate, sweet sugar, and tart pomegranate.
Make them, enjoy them, share them.
Double Chocolate Pomegranate Cookies
- 1 cup Butter (for vegan option: Use Earth Balance sticks)
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 Eggs (for vegan option: Mix 3 tbs ground flaxseed with 6 tbs water and allow to congeal for five minutes)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chocolate chips (for vegan option: look for chocloate chips without milk fat)
- 3/4 cups pomegranate arils
- Begin by opening the pomegranate and removing 3/4 cup of arlis (seeds). Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheet.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in one egg (or flax mixture) at a time. Once well incorporated, add vanilla extract. Mix well.
- Slowly add flour mixture to creamed butter mixture. The dough will be quite thick. By hand, fold in chocolate chips and pomegranate arils.
- Scoop heaping tablespoons of cookie dough onto prepared baking sheet. Do not press down. They will spread out as they bake.
- Bake for 9-10 minutes. Be careful not to overbake.
Remember, friends. Sharing is required.
With love and pomegranates,