IHOP declared today to be National Pancake Day. It says so on my Facebook feed, so it must be important. It is also Happy Faschnaut Day, a.k.a. Donut Day.
National Carb Days are almost semi-religious holidays for corporate Big Carb evolving from fear for the dawning of the Christian Lenten season, where Catholics in good standing will forsake the siren calls of the IHOP/Dunkin Donut/soft pretzel triumvirate.
Well, maybe not so much the latter in this area. That’s a Philly thing. We can only go so far in demonstrating our devotion. We barely survived edicts of meatless Fridays, which tended to put an economic crimp in the local cheesesteak economy.
In any the case, the point of this post is to celebrate the mystical properties of the pancake! Any connection with National Pancake Day is purely coincidental.
I say this because I witnessed the Power of the Pancake this weekend!
The story has its genesis in the struggle of addressing the needs for elderly parent care. There is never an easy solution to the question, what do you do when parents are aging to the point where more focused supervision is required?
My experience includes the breadth of care options available, from Independent Living through intensive, full-time managed care to end-life hospice services. There are blessings and curses with each choice.
Our latest experience and challenge is the decision to invite our last parent to join us in our home. My father-in law in a good guy, one I have always gotten along with though he has his blustery side and bouts with stubbornness.
When the choice was presented, I agreed easily enough, although there was a bit of anxiety about how such an arrangement might change a home dynamic with which we were all comfortable. My wife’s piece-of-mind over a relative living alone was enough to persuade me.
Our solution was to remodel our basement in recognition of my FIL’s desire to remain as autonomous as possible. So autonomous in fact that his new digs are the nicest in our home (just in case your first impression was an episode right out of the King of Queens)! The transition however has been anything but seamless.
We had to move him in earlier that expected and before his new palace was in move-in shape. The remaining construction and approaching holidays made the situation a bit dicier, resulting in a hangover that threatened our expectations for limited disruption to the established household routine.
The difficulties which developed involved the usual sources of close-proximity conflict … mismatched expectations, fumbled communications, and the tendency to avoid rocking anyone’s boat at all costs. Growing frustrations however required that the situation be addressed sooner rather than later; before the atmosphere we were trying to protect turned fetid, breeding anger.
I was tasked with being the Diplomat of Harmony.
My solution? Breakfast!
So this past weekend I invited my FIL out for breakfast at Hatboro Dish! I did not tell him the reason for the invite. Found out later he was suspicious, thinking we were going to through him out. (Insert link for King of Queens episode)
Carol, not a fan of Big Breakfast, opted to let the guys hammer things out at an establishment full of sharp objects.
As we sat down, Jim dithered over the menu options. I chose the bakery-quality cinnamon roll French toast, which is made by Lochel’s Bakery a few hundred feet up York Road, and Jim chose the pancakes … with strawberries … and whipped cream … soon to be marinated in maple syrup poured from a jar, not emptied from cheap plastic packaging.
Did I mention he’s diabetic? However, it’s my belief that once you get to a certain age, you should be free to enjoy whatever you can, reasonably and safely. I let him enjoy his loaded pancakes.
Once we finished our morning meals, it was time for The Talk. Dreading the moment I put all my cards on the table, I wasn’t sure how Jim would take the challenge. Changes had to be made. But addressing them would not necessarily be easy.
What I found out though was that Jim was as unsettled about what was going on as we were. We had a factual, very honest discussion of expectations vs. reality as it existed. It was more relaxed than I had anticipated … a friendly, direct, unemotional conversation about how to improve the home situation.
Our discussion couldn’t have gone better. Almost immediately function and comfort returned to our home!
Now this pleasant outcome could be attributed to a number of things – personality traits, mindsets, shared values – that helped us at the breakfast table that day. Either way you look at it, it’s hard to have a bad morning when looking over a stack of pancakes!