The greatest of gifts

christmas tree

The greatest of gifts don’t come in wrapping paper.  Sharing a loaf of just-baked bread with a friend, butter slipping into each steaming crevice. Washing the day down with a daring new drink – just enough to take the chill out of the air. And, above all, filling our hearts with gratitude for simple moments.

These are the best gifts of all.

Especially that last item – gratitude.

With gratitude every moment is a gift.
Gratitude fills up the giver and the receiver.
Gratitude isn’t about whether the glass if half full or half empty.
Gratitude is being glad there’s a drink there in the first place.

I’ve had some half full and half empty moments over the last few years. I became best friends with my mom. She was a huge support throughout my twenties and when I began this blog. And then I wrote a book and … I don’t know. Everything changed. We spoke every day while I was writing – laughing and sorting out dates – but now she’s gone into retreat. This time, instead of Samoa, Mom went to India and the Vatican. She’s sent newspaper clippings and rosaries.

All I know is that these objects don’t soften the blow. I miss her. My sister and I cry about it sometimes. Grown women, crying for our mother. Mom would call that tragicomedy. And she’d be right.

Perhaps it was too much, sharing our lives on the page like that. Editors will remind you to be mindful of one thing when writing memoir: no one asked to be in your book but you. It has to be difficult, people say. At least that much is true.

So I focus on my daughter. I teach her the holiday traditions Mom taught me. We’re making yarn ornaments and homemade pasta. Cooking and crafting keeps me busy. Seeing my daughter smile keeps my heart from breaking too much.

Oh, the gratitude I feel for this little girl’s smile.

It’s a funny thing. Gratitude fills you up, even when your heart is broken.

sasha and ava

Since Life from Scratch came out in March many of you have written to share your stories of overcoming hardship, of reconnecting with family, of finding your own peace, even if you cannot change circumstances. This holiday season, I find myself humbled by your stories. You say my story has helped you? Your stories have helped me.

Who knows what the New Year will hold.

I know there will be more half full and half empty moments.

Things will change. They always do. Nothing is written in stone.

Meanwhile, I am determined to remain hopeful – and grateful.

For this life, this day, this heart.

"Happiness is not a destination: Being happy takes constant weeding, a tending of emotions and circumstances as they arise. There’s no happily ever after, or any one person or place that can bring happiness. It takes work to be calm in the midst of turmoil. But releasing the need to control it – well, that’s a start." - Excerpt of 'Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness'' by Sasha Martin.

Just for you

For those of you who have read the book or purchased one for a friend, I want to say thank you. Please know that I wouldn’t change a word. My heart is true on those pages.

As an expression of gratitude I am offering an autographed Bookplate Sticker to the first 50 respondents. Consider it a virtual book signing… All you have to do is email me who the bookplate is for, what the message is, and the address where it needs to be sent. If you don’t want it personalized just let me know and I’ll simply sign my name and put a standard message. For details, see the image below.

Thank you for being a part of this adventure.

See you in 2016.

Pop up book signing - Life from Scratch


  1. Your’ re right and in the same time you’re not. Gratitude is a powerful thing and it does fill you up. Happiness is definitely not a destination although we all do seek the direction. There is a mathematical “happiness paradox” as it multiplies when you divide it to share with others. Frankly saying I would like you to be only just right, but unfortunately my experience shows that both the gratitude for the smile of the one you love and happiness that you constantly try to achieve and share can easily and with no mercy take away everything that is important in your life from you. It’s a sad story that teaches us nothing, so I won’t bring it up here. Still I wanted to make that comment. You mentioned sharing a loaf of just-baked bread. Yes. That is one of the most wonderful things people can do. Making use of the email link you gave I’m sending you a recipe for a very special loaf of bread.

  2. I hope that, at some point soon, your mother will realize the joy she is missing by distancing herself from you and your family, and will return for a closer relationship. I hope she feels fully accepted for who she is and forgiven for the past.

    There is sad yearning in trying for a connection that is not yours alone to maintain – spoken from several experiences. As the wise woman you are, you see the value of reducing the “need” and appreciating and tending the relationships you do have.

  3. All will be well and all manner of things will be well. May our shared rising sun fill you and your tribe with fresh hope every day especially at Christmas. Your book is a blessing of brokenness and brilliance. Thank you beloved

  4. Debbie says

    Peace and Joy to you and your family! Thank you for sharing all of yourself, so that we might all be healed!

  5. Thanks my sweet sister for sharing the truth….I see our pain as reflective…. it may never dissipate but by facing the origin of the pain may our hearts learn to accept the truth and may our minds may be sprinkled with forgiveness. @Nance: I believe that the only way our mother might feel fully accepted for who she is if she faces us, and forgiving her for her past mistakes, well (for me) thats another possibility for another day. <3

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