Pancakes and Gratitude
I’ve spoken to many people about this story, and I was lucky enough to have it published (within a broader context) in Kai Brach’s excellent Offscreen, but I’m particularly inclined to write about it publicly tonight.
About 28 years ago, a young couple — with a few little kids in tow — were looking for a place to live in Melbourne, Australia. They’d found a parish full of welcoming, friendly people in the suburb of Northcote, and were quite sure they wanted to be close-by to stay connected and grow the friendships that had just formed.
Unfortunately, houses were not particularly cheap, nor were the couple particularly flush with funds. A house in Northcote was beyond their budget, even with a bit of help from their family.
Their new friends in the parish got wind of this, and all chipped in to provide the money required for a house deposit — even though most helping out were couples with young children as well, and none had huge pools of cash to draw on either. The church itself was not involved, and this was not a loan, but a gift between friends.
Essentially, it was a dozen or so generous people handing over several thousand dollars as a gift to a couple they’d met recently. Needless to say, the couple were stunned and greatly appreciative.
To acknowledge their new community’s support, once they’d moved in to their home in Northcote the couple began a tradition: every year on Shrove Tuesday, they opened their doors to their friends, new and old, and cooked up a feast of pancakes and say thank you.
That tradition continues today, with many of the same faces who were there at the start, plus many newer friends as well. I know this, because the couple are my parents, and I’ve grown up having learnt how to make a mean pancake.
As I’m writing this, it is again Pancake/Shrove Tuesday, and I’ve just gotten home from my parents’ place in Northcote after yet another evening of pancakes, family, and friends old and new. I also spent this morning cooking pancakes at Inspire9, the coworking space I’ve been a part of since its inception, both because it’s Pancake Tuesday, but also because I’m departing the space for new adventures.
I’ve come to the realisation that this day provides me with an excellent and appropriate moment to reflect and be grateful: for my amazing parents, siblings and friends; for those who helped my parents all those years ago; for my wonderful coworkers over the past seven years; for the privileged life I lead. I am very lucky.
To all who have shared the journey with me in some way, large or small, thank you, and I look forward to cooking more pancakes with you soon.