This week Australia commemorated ANZAC Day – the day that Australian and New Zealand troops landed on Gallipoli beach in Turkey during World War I, and bloody battle that is often considered pivotal in the forming of Australia’s national spirit and embodying the nation’s values of hard work and mateship, along with courage, ingenuity and a sense of humor. It is celebrated as a national holiday in Australia to recognize our troops and those who have fought in wars representing our country.
I also had some sad news in my family this weekend, that my grandfather, my father’s father had passed away. He was in his nineties and had suffered from dementia, being cared for in an aged care facility the past few years. Hendrik Jan Renting had been in the Dutch merchant navy as a young man, and had seen the world, emigrating to Australia from The Netherlands following the second world war. He was a man that loved the sea, and had seen a lot of a different world than what we live in today. He came to Australia to start a better life, where he met my grandmother along the way, and started a life on the docks in the port town of Fremantle. However, his life was marked by his time during the second world war in Arnhem – a place where many bloody battles were fought with the Germans. My cousin posted these photos – with the caption that he was on life’s final journey.
So as I reflected on these events of the weekend, and also prepared to make a last minute trip home to be with my family during this sad time – I needed comfort. And the perfect antidote was chewy, crispy, sweet Anzac biscuits. I made these http://www.bakeplaysmile.com/classic-anzac-biscuits-and-a-little-celebration/, and they were just what I needed. In fact, I may have consumed several over the course of the weekend (I had intended to take them to work to share with my colleagues and tell them about the Australian holiday, but they didn’t make it that far!). Anzac biscuits are typically made with rolled oats, golden syrup and coconut and are known for being the biscuit made by the women left at home during the war, and packaged up to send to the troops. It was thought that these sweet, energy dense biscuits were perfect to keep for the long journey to the troops. However, there is some question if the biscuits were really sent to troops, or perhaps developed later as a fundraiser for war efforts. I love the buttery, sweet, chewy and crisp texture of these biscuits – and they were certainly called for this weekend in my house.
So as I prepare for the long journey to be at home with my family – I’ll be packing a few of the last biscuits to take on the trip and keep my spirits up along the way. I’m trying to remember to take some time out, to enjoy the small comforts and allow myself the time and space to grieve, to process and to just be. I’m thinking of the young men in World War I who were traveling much further from home than I am, for a much more sobering and arduous task. Lest we forget.