This month starts my second year of Meatloaf Mondays. After a long weekend of work and home projects, I hit Sunday night with tired feet and a heavy heart. It's a cookie month (we alternate between cookies and cake for dessert at the shelter), and I wanted to make heart cookies for the kids for Valentine's Day. That meant cutting out and decorating at least 7 dozen cookies.
At 11pm, that sounded nuts, but I got a running start at it--4 dozen baked before bed. At 6am Monday, I baked the rest of the cookies and started frosting and decorating. Pink icing. Red sprinkles. Multi-colored sprinkles. Bright pink sprinkles. Pastel non-pareils. My entire kitchen was covered in sugar and sprinkles. By 9am, the cookies were ready to box up and I was more than ready for a shower.
At the church where we cook, the children's room was dressed for a party. "Oh, let's see," someone said. "We knew we could count on you to make something special for the kids." The craziness of the late-night and early-morning cookie baking melted like chocolate in a pocket.
One of the other volunteers brought a goodie bag for each child--beautiful red bags filled with chocolate hearts. Someone arrived with two dozen cans of applesauce, which the children consider a huge treat. Another volunteer sat in a corner, finishing a special project.
Last night, 400 adults and 75 children received a hot meal. Each child got a heart-shaped cookie, a bag of chocolates, and a pencil decorated with hearts, wrapped in a heart-shaped note.
Many of these children endure heart-breaking situations, but on at least this one night, they are warm and full and satisfied. They carry out a message: You are loved. Who knows what stories they might write with those pencils of love.