I think every day is a good one for cookies, but, like almost anything you can think of, they have their own celebratory day. December 4 is National Cookie Day, a silly holiday, but a downright holy day, if you ask me. The national celebration falls during a time of year overstuffed with holidays, and so cookies are everywhere. In my view, that’s the true gift and #ReasonForTheSeason.
The fact that sugar, flour, and other simple ingredients can be turned into so many varieties, textures, colors, and tastes is a miracle of the greatest proportion. Warmed, chilled, by themselves, with milk or ice cream—the only way you can go wrong is to not bake or buy enough.
I almost don’t care what kind of cookie is available to me at any given time, whether it’s homemade or not. If it has peanut butter, though, I’ll more than happily share with others. I have some standards, including never counting cookies eaten or calories—am I right? My hips and doctor say, “No.” My taste buds and inner three-year-old, however, say, “yes,” and “more please.”
One of my all-time favorite cookies is not only tasty but talks to me. More accurately, a written note inside imparts wisdom or predicts the future, and always makes me smile. Of course, it’s the fortune cookie. There’s nothing better than a hidden message inside an edible envelope. While I crunch away, I read wisdom of the ages (or the cookie company’s copywriters). They always give me something to think about, even if only for the time it takes for the cookie to become history.
The last fortune cookie I enjoyed reminded me: “A kind word will keep someone warm for years.” That’s not a prediction as much as it is a truth, but that’s OK. Maybe it means that more kind words are coming my way soon. Maybe it means I should remember kind words said to me. That’s good advice always, but especially during trying times, unsettled eras, and world instability.
The cookie reminded me that, for years, I visited a local lunch spot to pick up a sandwich, and every day I saw a man sitting at the same table near a large square window by the door. He was a regular, who engaged with many customers. After he and I noticed each other for a time, we started smiling at one another—me on the outside on my way in and him gazing out through the window. Over time, the smiles turned into waves between us. Eventually, during a long wait inside for pick-up one afternoon, he waved me over to his table.
When I got there, we smiled and waved face-to-face, even though we’d already done that through the window, as usual. He started to write something on a napkin while I waited patiently to see what it said. I knew he was deaf—one of the workers knew I was a regular and told me, long after The Window Man and I had become smiling/waving friends.
He handed me the napkin on which he wrote a hello, his name, and also, “You’re so kind.” I smiled, wrote my name, and brought my hand to my chin to sign “thank you.” I wrote that I looked forward to seeing him every day I stopped in. My sandwich that day came with a hefty side of sweet.
About a year later, the restaurant was closed during the pandemic. I didn’t visit for a long time after it reopened for takeout. When I finally started to visit again, I heard that The Window Man had died. I had already gotten used to not seeing him—or anyone—during the stay-at-home orders and even after, when I hesitated to return to outside life. He was older and not well and I was sad to hear he had passed.
I was thankful that I had interacted with him as I had, especially that I told him how much I enjoyed seeing him. I still can see his face smiling when I motioned the few bits of sign language that I knew. And I still have the napkin. You know, the cookie was right. Thinking about that experience and his words gives me a warm feeling. I’m smiling, too.
His name was Joe. He said I was kind. Takes one to know one.
Thanks, cookie, for that sweet remembrance. ▼
Tara Lynn Johnson is a freelance writer. Connect with her at taralynnjohnson.com.
Photo credit: Kasia Derenda on Unsplash.