Sweet Potato Pie + Harvesting Light


Did you know that pie crust is typically made of flour, salt, sugar, and butter? A splash of cold water or possibly (in the case of this pie) a bit of buttermilk? I’m a tiny bit amazed every time I bake a pie at how simple the crust is. Just a few plain ingredients, the right amount of mixing, and voila! A new and remarkable thing.


As I put this pie together last week, I realized that Christmas is close and it feels different to me this year than it has for a long time. When I was a sophomore in college, my aunts and uncles and cousins on my dad’s side of our family started this tradition of spending Christmas at a cabin in the mountains. It was something I looked forward to all year every year, and I always felt my most content while I was there.


Then, as college kids do, my cousins and siblings and I grew up and married people and moved to new parts of the country, and started having babies. And this year, for the first time since I was a sophomore in college, my family isn’t spending Christmas at that cabin in the mountains. (We were sort of starting to outgrow it…) When it hit me full force in my feelings last week while I made this pie, I suddenly felt terribly sad.


I started to lament the fact that the story of this pie would be a sad, fractured one, me telling you all about how it doesn’t really feel like Christmas and how some of my family seems so far away and how even hearing Bing Crosby sing White Christmas wasn’t making a difference. 


But then Ingrid Michaelson’s voice came through on Pandora’s Christmas Radio, and I immediately started weeping and laughing and (almost) jumping with joy. Because you see, Ingrid Michaelson will always make me think of my brother and sister-in-law, who danced to one of her songs at their wedding for the first time as husband and wife. And on the day I made this pie, they were one week away from the scheduled date of arrival of their firstborn baby. It suddenly didn’t matter anymore that I’d been feeling sad, because the overwhelming joy I felt just imagining the little life getting ready to make its entrance here, on earth, was all I could contain in those moments that followed. And Ingrid (and Sara Bareilles) sang:


I still believe in summer days

the seasons always change

and life will find a way


Ill be your harvester of light

and send it out tonight

so we can start again


Is love alive?

Is love alive?

Is love alive?


I wanted to shout at the dang iPad, “Yes! Yes, Ingrid! Love IS alive!” 


Instead I finished the pie with a smile on my face, dreaming about who the baby would be, whether it would be a boy or a girl (I thought boy all along), what he/she would look like, and making peace with the fact that families grow and change and leave and come home, and that at the center of it all is love that’s ALIVE.


PS - Baby Jay was born this morning at 8:21 eastern time, weighing 6 lbs and 10 oz, and measuring 21.5 inches long. To say I love him already would be a gross understatement. I'm amazed. A new and remarkable thing indeed.