Yesterday we met up with my step-daughter and her husband who were down in our part of the world for a few days. It was a couple of days after her birthday and I had a moment of panic when I realised we hadn't got a birthday present for her. A trip to visit a sick family member had eaten rather cruelly into our finances and it was all we could manage to put a splash of fuel in the car to get to where they were staying.
Determined not to go empty handed, I baked cakes. They weren't much, just a few little fairy cakes covered in pink butter icing and sparkles. In truth, I just did the best I could with what I had in the kitchen cupboards. I felt a bit rotten that I hadn't been able to make more of an effort and yet as it turns out, no one had ever made her birthday cakes before! My family all baked so I take that kind of thing for granted, but for someone who grew up in a home where cakes came out of packets...well, she was over the moon. Such a simple thing and yet it prompted real emotion and genuine gratitude.
We stayed for a couple of hours before they started their long journey home. We walked their dog on the beach, drank coffee made on a little camping stove, ate cakes and laughed. It cost nothing but gave us so much.
As we drove back to our tiny flat with it's near empty kitchen cupboards, little pile of unpaid bills sitting on the kitchen work top and an electric meter worryingly close to empty, I smiled to myself. A plate of little pink cakes and good company had reminded me that sometimes I worry too much about things and complicate life more than I need to. I don't need savings in the bank, I don't need to buy expensive things (hey, Christmas is looming on the horizon, don't tell me you haven't been worrying too?), I don't need everything to run smoothly and be completely organised. Those things would be nice its true, but as long as I can rustle up something from the larder, keep more or less on top of things, and take the time to enjoy the people I love and the beautiful place I live, then life is actually pretty good.
Life is as simple, or as complicated, as we make it and these days I'll take simplicity every time.