Gather your eggs and flour, load up on lemons and sprinkle the sugar, for today is Pancake Day!
I missed celebrating Pancake Day when living in California. Even though I made my English pancakes (thinner and larger than American pancakes, more like crepes) for my children now and then, I wasn’t able to give them the same sense of excitement and anticipation of this special ‘feast’ that I had growing up.
The fun of eating pancakes was matched only by the thrill of watching my mother make them: first, she poured some batter into a frying pan. Then, after a few minutes, my brother and I geared up for the moment, hardly daring to breathe, as she tossed the pancake up into the air while flipping the pan, catching it as it flopped back down perfectly into the frying pan – without ending up as a sloppy, white mess on the kitchen floor or stuck on the ceiling. Which has happened to me more than once.
This was the magic trick you see, the true success of the perfect pancake, and it’s success was marked by smothering it in lashings of lemon juice and sugar and then devouring it. And immediately asking for another one.
But why do we do it?
Well, Pancake Day is otherwise called ‘Shrove Tuesday’, which comes from the word ‘shrive’, which means ‘confess’. This day always falls on the Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.
Before the fasting season of 40 days of Lent began, pancakes were made as a great way to use up all the ‘rich’ foods such as butter, sugar and eggs. Even earlier than Christian times, pancakes were eaten during pagan festivals, thought to symbolise the sun, imparting the sun’s power, warmth and light when eaten.
That explains why they taste so good.
And what does all this have to do with this post’s title? Well, thinking beyond the fun of Pancake Day since it brings us to the cusp of one of the most important times of reflection in the Christian calendar, it seems to me that Charli has set us the perfect prompt for her Flash Fiction challenge this week, asking:
‘February 11, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that demonstrates compassion. You can explore weltschmerz (enabling us to care enough about what’s wrong) and meliorism (driving us to try to do something about it) if you want to explore those specific terms.’
She also told us of #1000Speak for Compassion, a blogging event taking place this Friday, 20th February, details in the link.
So then, whatever our beliefs and whether or not we’ll be flipping pancakes this evening, I remain convinced that in every dark corner, no matter the depth of the malevolence lurking there, there is someone stirred up enough to not only care, but also to do the right thing. To have a little compassion.
This is my flash, 99 words, no more, no less:
The old man went down at the first push. “Not so tough now, are yer?” spat Vin as he aimed a heavy kick into the man’s ribs.
The others laughed and jeered, their voices echoing in the dimly lit alley. Vin threw his arm around Joe’s neck as they walked back to the pub.
“I warned that old git before not to ask for money. He had it coming.”
“Yeah, good on yer mate,” Joe lied, pulling away. “Look, I need a slash, you go on…”
Joe slipped behind a charity shop, then ran back to the old man.