Today a friend, a Swiss reader of The Christmas Cookie Club whom I met over the international social media, wrote to make sure that I and my dearest were doing well. Since the publication of the first Christmas Cookie Club book, we’ve communicated. This time, it’s not about cookies, baking or parties, but COVID-19.
One of the thrills of publication of Christmas Cookie Club Series (The Christmas Cookie Club, A Gift for my Sister, and The Lottery) has been its translation into six languages and distribution across the planet when my agent, Peter Miller, sold my books internationally. My fans made me aware of the joy I had spread as the internet and social media displayed the pleasure of shared cookie recipes, parties, and charity when cookies were donated to safe houses, hospices, homeless shelters.
We saw the oneness in our world. Recipes were shared from Brazil to Croatia, from the U.S. to China. My reader in Switzerland baked my cookies, started a blog in which she baked one of the recipes in the book and posted pictures, directions, in the languages of Switzerland. And English. From the beginning, the international flurry was an exciting part of the publishing. A German critic twitted me her review, I had Google translate it. The next morning, I was on a TV News program and mentioned to the anchor how amazing it was to be communicating with a woman in Germany about my book. The anchor asked me about it on air. I was able to send my new German connection a link so she could watch me marvel about her blog and the immediacy and closeness of all of us.
I heard from readers all over the US, South Africa, Australia, Croatia, Brazil with pictures of their cookie clubs and cookies. A reader from the UK, moved to Australia and, to feel part of her new community, started a cookie club which donated a dozen cookies to the hospice. The hospice director emailed me what a huge difference the cookies made to her patients, and then wrote about it in the hospice newsletter. I was connected to the world in a way I never imagined possible.
Brought together by the magic of the internet, I was reminded how much pleasure and anticipation all the people of the world share. How much we are alike.
Now, we share fear and sorrow across the planet. Just we are linked by our love of family, friends, baking, and sweets and gatherings, we are, alas, connected by possibilities of infecting each other, this time a new virus sweeping the world. I hear from fans quarantined in Europe. Or struggling in Brazil. Or Germany. Or Switzerland. I, too, wash my hands, try to stop touching my face, remind myself to use hand sanitizer when I get into my car. In fact, I am staying at home practicing isolation, other than the internet, the social media, and the phone. My city is shut down. All performances, lectures, cancelled. Schools and universities closed.
Then as a reminder of the delightful connections, I was notified of publicity for the UK version of my novel from New South Wales, Australia. The network reasserts itself, reminds me that in spite of the social isolation encouraged across the world now, there are friends, celebrations, and delight to come. We are linked together and share both celebrations and hard times.
I hope that I and all who are dearest to me stay well. I hope that you, my readers, fans, the people of our planet take care of themselves and each other. I am reminded, once again, of our similarities … the positive ones of love of friends and cookies and, alas, the negatives of being vulnerable to germs, and loss, suffering, and impact it may have throughout the world.
The COVID-19 has reinforced what the publication of the Cookie Club books taught me. We are truly connected. All of us everywhere on this spectacular small planet. This morning I saw a video of Italians singing together from their balconies, reaching out with pleasure, a hallmark of being human. Let’s each of us do our best in this hard time. Because, this too will pass. I wish all of you well.