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January 9, 2021

Crying until you say THANK YOU

(written on Christmas morning)

Is Christmas morning ever tough! I’m feeling sad and lonely as I sit in my large kitchen that is as quiet as a monastery of cloistered nuns. I should instead be happy that my plans went off without a hitch. Happy to have cooked all my children’s favourite holiday dishes; happy to have packaged them up so attractively. They were delighted with my efforts and the great-grandsons even offered to come and pick up the precious packages themselves.

Everything was just perfect, as they say. I didn’t have to deal with somber rains, missing an exit on the highway or slipping on an icy entranceway. They all ate well, they announced on Zoom. This morning should be perfect too. The kitchen is spic and span. There’s a pot of freshly made coffee, and my trusty computer sits ready to record the day’s words.


I humbly admit my heart is dragging its feet this morning. My eyes are tearing. As if some devil in my head is having fun making me believe that things are not as rosy as depicted in the brief letters that I love sharing with you. This morning, a blank page confronting me, I hesitate. Who am I really, other than an old lady full of sadness too heavy to toss out the window?

Yet I have always been strong and brave; able to ignore pain, hurt and difficulties. That’s how we build a future, I’ve told myself each time I’ve had to steel myself. I would cry for a brief moment and then would push on despite the hardship.  

This morning, I am beaten, like a deflated meringue. I want to howl like a Madeleine. To cry out loud that I’ve had enough of being locked up comfortably in my warm home. A prisoner of everything I like most: books, couches, drawings, DVDs, a collection of mismatched plates, bowls and cups neatly arranged in my dream kitchen. And even the huge table covered with all my writing material, with two large fragrant fir branches in a tall vase at its centre. Even this table fails to bring me the same joy as before. 

What’s happening to me? Is that vital mixture of hope starting to stick to the bottom of the pot?

Everything is perfect. It’s just that I long for the past. I am aching to spread my wings, to take a plane, to visit restaurants, our franchisees, our happy customers and our employees spread across this vast country. I want to have dinner with my grandkids and talk with them for hours. I want to browse bookstores, wander the city, enjoy a coffee with friends, discover a new pizza place, pick up a new pair of round glasses and attend a new play in front of actors on a stage.


I can’t wait to give my head the GO to start dreaming again. I can’t wait to tour my native Gaspé for the umpteenth time. And I especially can’t wait to fill my kitchen with real people, to have the kids visit with their families, their friends and all the usual visitors to the house.

I can somehow hear the snow compressing beneath the cars as they climb the road to the house. Nini and Penelope are opening the door, calling out my name from the living room.

It must be hope’s restorative power reviving me. Instead of howling I should be saying THANK YOU.

- THANK YOU to this confinement for sheltering me from the worst!

- THANK YOU again for helping me to mourn my departure from the office and settle into my new role as Founder and mother of the company’s president.

- THANK YOU to this forced solitude that, whether I like it or not, has softened my armour, opened my heart and heightened my emotions. I no longer carry a shield. For the better!

- THANK YOU to this confinement that has taught me to listen more to my body, my heart and my restless mind. I am learning to respond to the discomfort that comes with fatigue. I am learning to relax, to take care of myself and to be more attentive to little cuts and bruises. Now and then I have a little fit, but I have ample time to calm my mind through meditation, reading inspiring texts or listening to wonderful music.   

- THANK YOU to all the quiet time that confinement has provided, free of work, business trips, overconsumption, unnecessary outings, vain distractions and mindless chatter. I’m less affected by the world’s dizzying noise and thus able to discern the good from the not-so-good. 

- THANK YOU to this confinement for making me appreciate even more the food I eat every day. Since it’s my profession, I’ve had lots of time to think about my daily diet and about the best ways to nourish myself. I’ve also really enjoyed rereading my many cookbooks and trying new recipes that still make my mouth water. And just imagine, I haven’t put on a single pound since last March.  

- THANK YOU to this brutal pandemic for providing us with the tough lesson that uncertainty is an essential part of life. That we must learn to live with the unexpected and the unknown.

- THANK YOU to this confinement which made these letters possible. Wishing to stay connected to our customers, we thought about writing a weekly letter so that our hearts could stay in touch, so we could share recipes with you and tell you stories about the early days and our journey since. And who better than the founder herself to put it all into words.

- AND FINALLY A HUGE THANK YOU to you, dear readers, who have accompanied me throughout these writings. Your precious comments have warmed my heart and inspired me to continue. I try to bring my memories to life on the page. They have emerged from the past, one by one, thanks to you. These hours spent reminiscing are a wonderful elixir.

Each letter gives me the sense that I have returned to being the person I was at the start: available and happy to delight my customers.