I believe in magic. The magic of words and books and music. The magic that happens in kitchens. The alchemy of cooking, and then the beauty of sitting at a table, being nourished by the food and the company. Being in community.
My friend Rebekah texted me just days ago from an NCTE conference she was attending, where an author addressed “the magic in the mundane.”
“YES!” I replied. “Yes! Yes!”
After the election, I sought a place of safety and normalcy, a place I often find myself when my heart is disturbed: the kitchen. It was warm, and me and my kiddos each baked a cake, an effort to bring sweetness into the world, an act of edible, delicious creation even as we were navigating a world that my kids were frightened of for many reasons. We were all feeling fragile, but twenty minutes in, each with our own bowl, measuring our ingredients, we found the electric beater no longer worked. We took turns stirring vigorously. My kids have watched enough cooking shows with me to know that there has to be enough air in a cake. My daughter sang while we worked, and my son described how he’d decorate his cake. The dog came in and danced with us as we slipped on the linoleum in our socks. At one point, we hugged the dog, huddling around him, frosting him in praise. Love. The best dessert, right? And soon my kids were talking about our next baking foray: Pie. Pie for the Second Annual Day of Pie.
Honestly, the Second Annual Day of Pie almost didn’t happen. It seemed such a pie-in-the-sky dream, once again, and a lot of work during a time when I had plenty of work-work and after-work work and work to do on myself. But then I found out that a sweet bambino I sometimes have the joy of babysitting had learned, at a little over a year old, to say “pie” and point to pie in books. It was settled. Second Annual Day of Pie had to happen, even now, especially now.
Our motto, coined by my daughter last year, is “More Pie. More Fun. More Kindness.” Last year, we expected a small crowd, and would have been thrilled with 20 people. We found out people wanted more pie, more fun, and more kindness at a standing room only capacity. They needed it. And it was magical. Kevin Dean regaled the crowd with pie-inspired tunes. We had a variety show that included a literal magic act, wee ones playing violins, duos and trios blending guitar, fiddle, and braided voices in harmony, and a feast of poetry and storytelling. We ate pie for three hours, sipped coffee and tea while we conversed and considered the next slice. We collected donations for Loaves and Fishes food pantry, as well as the Annual Act of Kindness, which resulted in $360 being split between two area families who were dealing with difficult circumstances.
And friends, it’s all going to happen again, but we need you and your pie and your magic. Please consider this your warm welcome to the Second Annual Day of Pie. Please bring a pie or three to share, and a pie server, if you have one. Please bring a donation for Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry (think nonperishable foods) or the McDonough County Animal Shelter (food or kitty litter). If you can afford to make a donation to our Annual Act of Kindness, there will be donation cans for two Macomb treasures, The Macapolitan and Western Illinois Regional Council’s Project Santa.
All are welcome. Bring your appetite for pie, fun, and kindness. Come when you can, and stay as long as you are able. The holidays can be hard, lonely, and super stressful. But the Second Annual Day of Pie isn’t a holiday. It’s a day of pie. A day of fun. A day of kindness. Come and belly up to the table. Come and share your talents. Come and see old friends, and make a few new ones.
Life is hard, but as my Uncle Tommy always says, “Pie makes everything better.” And I believe that small acts of kindness accumulate, and that we all need exuberant fun and more delectable pie. Coffee, tea, water, and all table service will be provided.
Come celebrate pie and be in delicious community on Sunday, November 27th from 1:00-4:00 p.m. at the Wesley Community Center (1200 East Grant, Macomb, IL).
Let’s make some magic and eat some pie, together.
Barbara Harroun is an Assistant Professor of English at Western Illinois University.
The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the University or Tri States Public Radio. Diverse viewpoints are welcomed and encouraged.