Year of the Cream Puff

Mom making biscuits for Will at our house

The year of the cream puff

(and why cream puffs matter)

The house shook when I closed the door behind me. It was the end of the fall semester and crunch time for me with school and work. It was finals time.

I was in a tizzy

My pearl restringing business had really taken off and every store was breathing down my neck to have orders finished in time for the holidays. I was hurried, stressed out, and in a terrible huff.

Mom knew something was wrong.

She rushed to catch me as I was stomping up the stairs. She looked so small in the doorway at the bottom of the stairs (oh to see her there again!).

She asked me if I was ok.

I unloaded on her about my day, how much I had to do, how it was impossible, and my world was collapsing.

Me, me, me. I, I, I.

She asked, “What can I do to get you into a better mood?” I rolled my eyes and told her that nothing could help, that I had to do it all myself, it probably wouldn’t get done, everything was going to fall to pieces, and life sucked and blah, blah, blah….

But she pressed. Was there anything that would make me smile?

Enter the cream puff…

I am not sure where it came from but, in that moment, I wanted a cream puff. How random is that?

She asked, “If I make cream puffs, will you be in a better mood?”

The thing is, I was sure there was no way she could do it. Our stove was broken, and we were getting by with a toaster oven. I kind of blew her off, thinking she was just wasting my time.

I replied, “Sure.” and went to work stringing pearl orders.

Mom had a PhD in food science and enjoyed a challenge. How I ever doubted her is beyond me.

Sure enough, she called to me from the bottom of the stairs about an hour later – with a tray of cream puffs. She even made two kinds, vanilla and chocolate.

She was smug.

Triumphant, even. She had me.

I was dazzled! It was as amazing to me as if she had spun hay into gold.

My mood was turned inside out. I went from stressed and whiny to appreciative and in a state of wonder. The worries of my day melted away and I was so proud of her – my mom.

My magical mom. My magical mom who could do anything. I want to be like that!

“What can I do for you?”

Life was hard for her then. She was still recovering emotionally and professionally from a drawn-out divorce. She was managing on her own and had me to deal with on top of it all.

She didn’t have a cheerleader. She didn’t have a strong support system.

When I stormed in full of stress and huff, it was her front door I slammed. It was her day I interrupted.

Who hasn’t had a day go like that? I’ve been on both sides of that situation and had it snowball into something much worse. I bet you have, too.

She could have compounded my stress in countless ways.

She could have fussed at me for slamming the door.

She could have called me a brat (true).

She could have told me to “toughen up buttercup” (I needed to).

She could have threatened to kick me out.

She could have tried to one-up me by telling me how hard HER day had been (and I’m sure it was).

But that’s not what she did.

Instead, she made cream puffs for me – in a toaster oven.

And with that one act (and it might have been hard for her), she turned everything around for both of us. She pulled the plug on a bad mood and pointed me in a much more pleasant direction.

Sometimes it only takes one person.

One person who doesn’t take it personally.

One person who can see your potential (even when you are being a butthead).

One person who can see past the whining and anger to see the pain underneath (and honor it).

One person who tries to make things better.

One person who will shine a light on a better path, mood, place, choice (even when it seems impossible to you).

Does this sound like someone in your life? If you are fortunate enough to have a cheerleader or someone quietly working behind the scenes to make your life better and more pleasant, DOTE ON THEM!! Lavish them with thanks! Let them know how much it means to you.

More importantly, you can be that “one person” for someone else!

Cream puff magic is a state of mind and we can all have it. It will take practice to override the knee-jerk reaction to snap back at someone who’s having a bad day.

It’s so easy to get sucked down into other people’s bad moods. Fight it! Turn toward hope and happy. Point the way for others.

Practice seeing past the snark and negativity to recognize that bad moods and attitudes are almost always rooted in pain. Sometimes just shining a light in the direction of hope can change someone’s attitude – right then, right there.

Small gestures can make an enormous difference. It doesn’t have to be ground breaking (or break the bank). It only has to be sincere.

Mom knew then (and I know now) that the world is a better and more pleasant place with happy, relaxed people in it. It’s a win-win. Trust me; we both enjoyed the cream puffs AND my improved mood!

Please join me in making this the year of the cream puff – the year of understanding and “What can I do for you?”

Start with the people around you. The holidays give us a fantastic opportunity to practice elevating and uplifting others. It will make the holidays (and life!) more pleasant for everyone.

Happy holidays,

Nancy

PS – What can I do for you?