“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice.” Philippians 4:4
The end was in sight, I had one custard base left in the fridge to churn, and one more base to make. Eight gallons of vanilla bean ice cream, 2½ gallons of black raspberry ice cream, and 3½ gallons of dark chocolate peanut butter ice cream in the freezer, waiting to be transported to the wedding in less than two weeks. I was ahead of schedule, feeling accomplished, and pleased with my results.
A year ago, when my daughter was planning her wedding, she asked a favor. With her bright smile and a twinkle in her eyes, she asked me if I would be willing to make homemade ice cream for her wedding. I had recently been experimenting with homemade ice cream and had made a few flavors that seemed to be winners. It seemed such a simple favor and I knew how much both Maggie and Will would appreciate it. Additionally, the wedding venue had a silo with a bar, which would be the perfect place to serve the ice cream. I agreed to help Maggie break tradition, to serve ice cream instead of cake.
As my lilac bushes bloomed in early May, I started the ice cream process with two Cuisinart machines, four bowls and lots of egg yolks. It would take about seven hours to make one gallon of vanilla, which included the time to infuse the vanilla bean into the sweet milk. I would pop in my earbuds, listen to a lot of podcasts, and start making ice cream. Each gallon was a two-day process, one day to make the base, and another day to churn. I small-batched the ice cream to make sure the custard set well, and the whisking was manageable for my RA deformed hands.
The weeks flew by, and each gallon of ice cream was a labor of love. I couldn’t wait to celebrate with my daughter at the wedding of her dreams. I imagined a sunny day with a line of wedding guest outside of the silo, eating ice cream topped with whipped cream and a cherry. Each day I made ice cream, I felt like Ella from “Ella Enchanted”, surrounded by cartoon birds chirping cheerful sonnets, as I skipped around cracking eggs, measuring heavy cream, and weighing sugar. The whole process felt peaceful during a season of chaos.
With the end in sight, I decided to retire early one evening. I scrolled through Facebook and noticed that both a friend and my daughter-in-law posted information concerning a Jiff peanut butter recall and salmonella outbreak. I read the article and my heart sank, I used Jiff to make the last three gallons of ice cream. For a few moments, I pondered, “Could I pretend I didn’t see the article?”, but my conscience and concern about people’s health blared loudly in my head. I sat on the stairs and called down to Terry, asking him to check the lot numbers on the peanut butter. He looked at the numbers and looked again, the numbers fell in the range of the recall.
Exhausted, teary-eyed, and overwhelmed, I asked Terry to dump all the ice cream down the sink. I crawled into bed, pulled the covers over my head, and went to sleep. The next morning, I came downstairs to find the remnant of ice cream still melting in my sink. As I was cleaning the sink, I realized I had only one choice: choose joy.
There have been many less-than-ideal situations in my life: canceled vacations, unexpected sicknesses, and job losses just to name a few. All these situations cause additional heartache, conflict, or work in life. I can’t control them, but I can control how I respond to them. There was absolutely nothing I could have done to prevent the dumping of the ice cream; it was completely out of my hands. All I could do was control how I responded.
That day, I started the new batch of ice cream for the wedding. A few days later, my sweet daughter-in-law came and helped me finish, creating more memories. We perfected the process, and I honestly think the second batch was even better than the first!
There were a lot of things that didn’t go quite the way we planned the week of Maggie and Will’s wedding. On the morning of the wedding, another major problem erupted, maybe someday I’ll share those details. But after a rough morning of trying to come up with a new plan, I arrived at the venue to see my sweet daughter swinging on the swing with her bridesmaids. Maggie was choosing joy, and the day turned out beautifully. And, yes, there was a line of happy wedding guests at the silo waiting for ice cream.