June is the time for strawberries, but is this where I confess that I don't actually like strawberries? Strawberry shortcake doesn't taste nearly as good as chocolate cake.
But I find something about June and the time for strawberries comforting. It comes every year, the same and yet different, and it makes me sigh with contentment.
I've been helping with the local strawberry festival for years now. My hometown's historical society serves up strawberry shortcake as one of its yearly fundraisers. I first volunteered at the age of thirteen, and I'm pretty sure I made a life commitment that day, barring extreme and unforeseen circumstances. Maybe if I move or decide to become a professional panda cuddler.
I started helping with beverages, pouring cups of water, lemonade, and coffee. But then I was promoted to waitress, which I find even more fun. I enjoy handing people dishes filled to the brim with strawberries, biscuits, ice cream, and topped with swirls of whipped cream. It's nice to give people something they want. Plus, if you're a waitress, you get to wear one of the special aprons.
As the Historical Society geared up for another strawberry festival this year, I was again recruited to be a waitress. At this point, how could I say no?
This year: the old and the new
It was the same in many ways. The tubs of strawberries and the components to make strawberry shortcake. The paper order forms to hand out to guests. The red aprons with the strawberry print on the pockets.
Being there brought back happy memories and the comfort that exists in the familiar. The Strawberry Festival was happening like it did every year. Most of the differences were subtle.
This year, the number of people came back strong. Last year, people had been warier, with more people getting their strawberry shortcake to go rather than sitting down to eat it. This year more people chose to sit down at one of the many tables under the pavilion to enjoy their shortcake and catch up with old friends.
I had a friend serving as a waitress for the first time. She hadn't been able to in the past. I helped put away the chairs this year, and there were some new faces at the takedown afterward.
But there was one big change, and it made me anticipate next year. My older sister, expecting her first child, was just picking up her strawberry shortcake to go. I couldn't help but think about next year when I'll be able to see his face covered in the red juice from the strawberries.
I guess that example doesn't quite fit with the point I'm attempting to make about the comfort of sameness with subtle changes. Yeah, this addition to our family is big change, but I'm so happy I'm just going to keep bringing it into conversations and writing now because I'm so excited to meet my nephew!
But back to my other point. It might be the same setup and the same strawberry shortcake recipe. But every year is different, and I get to enjoy it with old and new friends. With events that come each year, I can be thankful for the changes and thankful for what's the same.
To ensure I'm not plagiarizing, this idea isn't originally mine. In fact, C.S. Lewis wrote about this idea in The Screwtape Letters:
"[God] has balanced the love of change in them [people] by a love permanence. He gives them the seasons, each season different and yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme."
When I think about how God designed it all, it makes me smile, in the season for strawberries and throughout the year. Yeah, I'm also really excited about Aunt life.
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Very well written. Keep up the good work!
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