This is a difficult time of year, here at The Ordinary’s institute for cheerfulness studies. We haven’t seen the sun in weeks, and we keep reading articles about why certain days in January are the most miserable days of the year. (♫ It’s … the most … miserable time … of the year! ♪) It can be hard to keep the spirits up. But this morning, we think we might have developed a break-through method in merriness training. Like all discoveries, it happened by chance, in the field. Let me set the scene for you. It was a wet morning, the streets were slick and dark, the sidewalks a maze of mud and puddles. It was one of those days when the water seems to come up from the ground, or from the damp and despondent air, because there’s none falling from the sky. Isaac decided to take his brand new bright blue umbrella to school. Isaac is a slow walker at the best of times, but an umbrella makes him so slow he might as well be going backwards. He twirls it, he holds it ahead of him like a shield, he holds it behind him like a sail, he stops to pick at the broken parts, studying them intently. The only time it’s held above his head is when he charges forward a few steps and leaps, seeing if the umbrella will bear him aloft. He claims to have flown a few steps, and I have to tell you that I believe him. Now, I understand the value of cheerfulness. Most of the time I try, I make an effort. I know that people with a lot less reason to be cheerful than me do a much better job, and they are my heroes. But I fail miserably sometimes. This morning, for instance. Why does the dog need to pull my arm off to reach every fetid bit of garbage? Why does Isaac have to stall in the middle of the street? Why do my feet get so cold and wet? Why does his dizzy winding path lead him directly to every puddle, so that I have to imagine him sitting all day with cold wet feet, and think about how he’s got a cold coming on? Well, we finally made it to school, and it began to rain in earnest. Freezing rain that clung as ice to every slick surface. I gave Isaac a kiss and took his umbrella. I held it over my head, quite low and close, so that it became my whole world – and what a world – it was like moving in the world of Isaac’s imagination, radiant and joyful, my own private dome of bright blue sky. Umbrellas! The secret is umbrellas! Imbued with the buoyant thoughts of those who have held them! A traveling bubble of shelter and inspiration! Catch hold, and see if you don’t fly for a few steps! Here is further evidence to substantiate our findings, drawn from the extensive research of our colleagues. See if this doesn’t cheer you up…
Or this (starting at 2:47)
Here’s Rihanna’s Umbrella.
1 stick salted butter (1/2 cup) softened
1/3 cup icing sugar
2 t vanilla
1/2 cup flour
2 T cornstarch
a handful of bittersweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350.
Beat the butter until it’s very soft and light and fluffy. Beat in the sugar and the vanilla, until the whole mixture is even more soft and light and fluffy. Beat in the flour and cornstarch. You should have soft but stiffish dough.
At this point you can mix the chips right in and drop the cookies by teaspoons onto a sheet. OR you can fill a piping bag, choose a tip that makes a star, and, in a spiral shape, pipe little cups. I tucked two chocolate chips in each (they’re tiny cookies) and then piped a lid on each one.
Bake for about 15 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown. Allow to cool, then eat!