My grandmother had a knack for making hot cocoa. She followed no particular recipe, shook out Hershey’s powder and sugar into a sauce pan, added milk, never resorted to measuring with teaspoons. Yet, voila, the cocoa was rich and delicious and when she handed us a warm cup with a homemade biscuit, we kids were in heaven.
This morning is dreary and drizzly, and I wish I had a cup of her cocoa, a great big mug I could fuss over and savor.
For a moment, my thoughts drift elsewhere. About two weeks ago, a new editor informed me that the Pioneer Press would no longer feature my column.
Of course, I was disappointed, but then I considered how tough a climate it is for newspapers, how readership keeps dwindling for print venues. I read some insane statistic, that 2/3rds of retail book shelf space has vanished in the past 15 years. There are too many writers and too few readers, and it’s never been more competitive.
Five years ago, the odds were stacked against me ever landing a column. There were thousands of established mommy bloggers, many of whom touted they wore Erma’s crown. I admired Erma so much, but never felt I could fill her terrycloth house slippers. My writing struck a different note. I didn’t write like Erma or Dave, I was limited to a 350-word space and tried to fill it with humor and deeper thoughts. If I verged on pretense, I had my best critic, my mom, to set me straight, or had the eye-roll of my husband to keep everything in check.
So yes, it’s been an absolute privilege to write for the paper chain for the past five years. I received many lovely reader letters, and reported to a splendid editor, Jennifer, and her colleague, Matt S.
The humble column had become an endearing habit. Every week, I would send my sister a new Pioneer link for her to read the latest Van Mom missive. Last week, I couldn’t.
My sister said, “You know, whenever I had a rotten day, I knew I would read your column and feel a little better.”
I replied, “Oh, well, you’re my sister. Of course you’ll say that.”
“No, it’s true,” she said. “I felt like I’d gotten a little break from the craziness and stress. I felt like I’d had a mug of cocoa.”
Thank you, Jennifer and the Pioneer Press, for this opportunity, and thank you so much, all my readers, for taking the time to read my words.