A few years ago, Ken and I hosted our family Christmas. We had 16 mouths to feed and a handful of picky kids, so the menu chose us: a pasta bar. To the voices of Bing Crosby and David Bowie, we stir butter noodles and simmer heirloom tomatoes and begin to prep the star of the show: a homemade alfredo sauce I’d dogeared months before.
Bee crawls underfoot as I consult the recipe. Ken rummages through the fridge for our ingredients. How many sticks of butter do we need?
I peer down at the cookbook as Bee pulls on my pant leg. It says 16, I say, pulling her up to the counter.
16 sticks? Ken asks. For how many servings?
Umm, 8, I answer.
We stare at each other in disbelief and Ken makes a last-minute grocery run. In truth, it was the best alfredo sauce we had ever tasted, but neither of us could stomach more than a spoonful. We knew what was in it.
Sometimes, often times, your mother’s life and your sister’s life, and your best friend’s life look like an Italian masterpiece. Their vats are creamy and decadent and simmered to perfection, and here you are, just trying to get the toddler to stop licking the fireplace.
But we all know the truth. We know how many sticks of butter are in our alfredo recipe. We all know how hard we have fought, how deep we have loved, how far we have crawled. It’s difficult to stomach more than a spoonful.
Still, we must try. We must try to find nourishment in ourselves, in our own creations. Only then can we taste it and call it good. Only then can we pass it around, saying Careful. There’s a whole lot of butter in here. But it’s worth it.