I just whipped up a batch of cinnamon roll dough with the kids. As I gave them each a pinch of dough to enjoy, I remembered my Great Grandma. She died when I was quite young--I am not even actually sure when--so, I don't have very many memories of her.
The only memories I have involve her cinnamon rolls (or "sweet rolls", as she called them). She was famous for them, and I specifically remember her making them for us whenever she visited from Minnesota. She always let us kids eat some dough and often gave us scraps to play with.
It seemed like an interminable wait until the dough had risen and the rolls had cooked, icing had been whipped up and they were finally ready to eat.
But they were always well worth the wait.
I wish Grandma Anderson were here to guide me as I make these cinnamon rolls, to give me pointers, and to see that I am passing along her tradition to my kids. She probably thought nothing of baking for us, her great grandchildren, but it has stuck with me and made an imprint, and I want her to know that.
For a while now, I have been wishing I could do more, make more of an impact on the world. I see other women who do such amazing things, all while also raising children, and I wonder why I can't do more. Why can't I handle getting a job or volunteering more? And I guess I just want to feel like my contribution to the world is significant.
I wish I could do some great big thing that affects my community, start some amazing movement to galvanize people for change. I wish I could do something big to help.
The longer I think about it, however, the more I realize that right now in my life, I can only handle small acts of service: taking a meal to someone sick, delivering Meals on Wheels once a month, typing up the PTO newsletter, babysitting for a friend. Though I long to do more, like teach some classes at the community college or be a literacy volunteer, I feel that my family would suffer if I took on a major commitment at this point in my life.
As I ponder the cinnamon rolls that are rising right now, I realize that it is often the small, seemingly insignificant moments and actions that influence a person. It doesn't always take grand gestures or large sacrifices to make an imprint on a person. Most of the things I remember about my family members are not big trips or expensive presents, but the small kindnesses.
Like Great Grandma and her sweet rolls.
Recently, my Aunt S. celebrated her 70th birthday and in her honor, I picked people's brains and came up with 70 reasons we love her. In the process, we remembered so many small moments that meant a lot to us, like the many sleepovers she hosted and the fun crafts with recycled Christmas cards she helped us make. I still have some of those ornaments that I hang on my Christmas tree every year.
The thing is, Aunt S. was surprised at all the great memories we had with her. She told my mom that it was nice to learn that she had made a difference in our lives. I can't believe she wouldn't know what an influence she was, but, in a way, I understand. She didn't work outside the home, she didn't spearhead some great big movement for social change. Yet, she did change the lives of those around her, and she continues to do so, typically by small and simple daily kindnesses.
And, you know, I think the same can be said for all of us.