Friday, December 9, 2011

St. Nick's Dilemma

In which Truffula writes these words to you by the light of her new LED Geobulb...

St. Nikolaus found his way to our home again on December 6.  The children in our church congregation were so well-behaved in the past year that he stopped by there, too.

Our family visit was easy: our tradition is that we put out empty plates before we go to bed.  Overnight, St. Nikolaus leaves his usual, delicious, they-will-never-be-quite-the-same (because he, ahem, doesn't use a formal recipe for this) bread men.  He was thoughtful to bring a grain-free equivalent for our younger TruffulaBoy.

In our congregation, the conventions are little different: in addition to getting a bread man (Weckmann) after Mass, each child also gets a red apple from St. Nikolaus.  And, that is where the dilemma began...

I had volunteered to help St. Nikolaus with his apple procurement. In the past, I'd bought apples from a farm down the road from us.  This time, I had the opportunity to do one better, to get apples which were local AND organic.  I typically buy second quality apples for my own family, but splurged on firsts for this purpose.  The price was comparable to the sale price of grocery store varieties.  The bags arrived, and I put them into the garage for safe-keeping until they were needed.  The garage filled with apple aroma, and I inhaled happily whenever I went out there.  Until...

Two days before the Big Event, I retrieved the apples and prepared to count out the number St. Nicholas had specified.  Now, it was the kitchen which smelled fantastic as I worked.  For quality control :-), I indulged in a sample... Mmm... Their taste and texture matched their wonderful smell.

Less wonderful was the apples' appearance.  Each one's peel was speckled with varying amounts of black spots.  I wiped the apples carefully to remove as much schmutz as I could.   My heart sank further with each apple because most of the spots would not budge.  They were on the peel's surface, and could easily be excised with some judicious knife work  The fact remained: these were not the cover girls of the apple world.

Ay!  What to do?!  Should I race out to the grocery store to buy more attractive replacements?  Should I make an announcement to the congregation to explain that dear St. Nikolaus was bringing ugly apples with him but to please overlook this shortcoming because they were local and organic?  That would possibly ruin the magic of the visit.... Would an announcement be a teachable moment in which I could also mention that apples were at the top of the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" list of fruits and vegetables, and that the EWG recommendation was to always go organic on those?  But, would anyone really give two hoots about that?  Or, was more less, and should I say nothing and keep the apples I'd already gotten?

In the end, I stuck with the organic option.  The apples weren't high-gloss, uniform Red Delicious, but were cleaned up, scrumptious Fujis.  I skipped making an announcement, and presented the apples as attractively as possible, layered carefully in wicker baskets.

Did anyone turn up their nose at St. Nikolaus' gifts?  In the wake of my anxiety over the apples, I am left to wonder that myself.  After the Mass and visit, I immediately went into a rehearsal for the Christmas play.  By the time that was done, the church was cleared out.  I collected the empty baskets, hoped for the best, and headed out into the day.

And that's the news from Truffula-land, where the slice-of-life is not always clear-cut, goin' green invokes ticklish decisions, and the apples are pretty darned delicious.

Apples awaiting distribution by St. Nikolaus

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