Value the small, important things: a lesson from pancakes

I love pancake day. I’ve ‘done it’ for as long as I can remember. I love the ritual of making the mix and then standing over the stove for an hour chatting, burning my fingers and picking at the pancake-that-went-wrong.

But at the supermarket last Monday, I grabbed a packet of pre-made pancakes, some bananas and a jar of maple syrup and popped them in my trolley. I reasoned that the evening would be busy and that making pancakes might be a bit stressful.

That evening, as my family tucked into their pancakes, I felt a bit sad. The shop-bought pancakes tasted fine, but I realised that having pancakes to eat is not the most important thing. I had missed out on the satisfying familiarity of pancake day: the joy of eating something you have lovingly created and the wonder of watching simple ingredients become something quite magical! And I had missed an opportunity to spend time with friends and family making them – there had been no hilarity over mis-flipped pancakes or competitions to see who could eat the most.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to buy pancakes. But for me, taking a shortcut robbed me of an important moment of memory, joy and connection. There are so many of these small tasks and activities that we can now skip or buy thanks to modern technology. Often these conveniences improve our lives. But some tasks or events are too precious to let someone (or something) else do for us.

What tiny moments of joy and connection do you need to preserve from the hectic efficiency of modern life? Maybe you have got into the habit of driving locally when you know that really, you’d much rather have a refreshing walk. Perhaps it’s been ages since you had lunch with your colleague because eating at your desk is quicker and easier. Maybe there’s a joyful ritual you need to revive with your family or friends.

Next year I’ll be buying eggs, flour and milk and inviting some friends over to make a joyful mess of my kitchen, together.

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