Cooking Away Malaise

Where my mid-autumn hygge turns into pre-winter unhygge…

I’m not really sure when or how, but my cosy optimism of stove-lit snug evenings developed into the doldrums somewhere between Halloween festivities and the onset of Christmas ads on TV.  My grandmother passed away 3 weeks ago at the admirable age of 90, but slipped suddenly from stubbornness, a sharp mind and good mobility to a slip of a shadow within a short time.  She left memories of wintery beach days and eating homemade chips in the caravan parked outside my grandparents’ house, along with some unresolved questions and complicated grief.  My grandmother and my mother’s mother were two very separate people.  Families are a web of relationships; some strong and straightforward, holding everything together and some more difficult and fragile.  I always knew my mother and grandmother didn’t have an easy relationship; my mother was very careful to keep any issues away from the bond I had with her, but as I got older I began to recognise a weary pain between them that it hurt me to see my mother endure.  Grief is tricky and tiresome, an unending struggle of reason, memory and irrational thoughts.  I will miss her, the joyful moments and strength of character.  I will try my best to do whatever my mum might need to get her through sad, unsettled and sleepless days.

Immediately after she passed away I started to cook; baking for the funeral tea, planning what she might have liked and googling best foods for grief.  I cleaned and cooked and took comfort in being busy and having a purpose and it was only when I stopped that the glum set in.  I haven’t felt like much of anything; I’m not sad, I just have a feeling that I can’t be bothered and it isn’t one I enjoy.  I had been so inspired by new recipes and trying different vegetables and ways of cooking recently and now it feels like a distant memory.  I know that enthusiasm will return; I’ve started to watch Christmas cooking shows (mostly repeats on Food Network) and can feel the familiar recipes and flavours nourishing my heavy heart.  I’ve lifted pen to paper and begun planning menus, bakes and shopping lists.  I plan to cook away the bleak cobwebs and take joy in cherishing my family.  No better time of year for it.

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