Blend equal parts joy and pain; fold in a pinch of courage. Pour into an open heart. Store at room temperature.
We had a new salad several times when the kids were here for Christmas. It has a garlicy, lemony, peppery dressing that Katie especially likes, and she can make it in her new Magic Bullet. Total bonus, because she loves that Magic Bullet. The day after she got home, she asked me to email the recipe. Even bought red wine vinegar for it, which means my little Food Network junkie now has five kinds of vinegar in her pantry.
The salad was such a hit that I decided to add it to Katie's cookbook/scrapbook. Picking a picture for the page cracked my heart open another smidgeon.
My first thought was to use a picture of Katie and Craig wearing hideous Christmas sweaters and horrible hats they bought at Goodwill as a joke. So far, I haven't included any pictures of Craig, but he's seeming more and more like part of the family. As I considered the pros and cons—the only real con being how hard it would be for her to throw away the page if they break up—I realized the question was moot.
We first made the salad for our dinner with N, the night Katie met her birth grandparents. The loving thing to do is use a picture from that night. The cookbook is meant to be a record of her life. N and her family are now part of that life, and they belong in its pages.
Some tiny, ugly part of me says no, shrieks orders to build a barb-wire fence around what's precious, stack bricks and stones to defend "my" territory. The cookbook is ours, mine and Katie's. I don't have to let anyone else in.
Except I do. Wanting the best for my daughter means opening the doors of my heart to all who love her, all she loves. Including pictures of her dad's family in the original pages wasn't easy, either, but it was right. So is this.
Most things get easier with practice. I sure hope this open-hearted thing is one of them.