The Bath, a gift of self-care

A couple of friends have asked me lately where the sudden rush of bath products has come from — it’s not food, after all, so it doesn’t directly connect to the cookbook. I gave them a simple answer at the time, but I think the real reason is a little more complex.

The simple answer is that making these is a lot like cooking — you’re composing a recipe, of color and scent and consistency, thinking about ingredients. So the process is familiar to me, and easy.

It’s also just fun crafting. Relaxing, creative, something I can do with the kids / friends. I love playing with the colors, thinking of new designs and implementing them — it’s so fast, from thought to finished result, like cooking. (Not like writing!)

I mostly don’t make enough on these to do more than break even on the cost of supplies, since I’m not producing them in sufficient bulk to get cheap ingredients. So it’s more like paying for a hobby, in that sense.

The most popular items today have definitely been the bath products — I’ve sold a lot of little items, especially lip balms (inexpensive, good for stocking stuffers), and body butter (a little pricey, indulgent). People are generally buying them for gifts, often for mothers or mothers-in-law. Sometimes moms buying them for themselves, occasionally with a little mention that they need to do that because no one will think to get them anything.

It’s a huge part of the holidays, gifting scented things: bath items, candles, etc. Which is interesting, because scent is honestly so individual, that you’d think it’d be tricky to try to guess what scent somebody else would like (and some people don’t like or can’t tolerate artificial scents at all).

I think it’s less about the object itself, than about signaling care. A scented bath, a candle — it’s about a quiet moment, taking time for yourself. A lot of us wish that for the women in our lives, I think. Selves included.

For me, I can’t help thinking back to when I had cancer. It was such a tough time, going through treatment, and while I was allowed to, I found myself taking far more baths than normal. Almost every night, I’d draw a bath and disappear into it for an hour. I needed it, in a way that’s hard for me to explain or even quite understand right now. If I had the energy on those nights, I’d light candles too, a forest of them, and use all the bubble bath.

So when I make these bath products, I think that’s a lot of what’s in the back of my head. A hope, a wish, that they’ll bring some comfort to someone, at the end of a hard day. That they’ll signal love and care, even if it’s in a sort of inarticulate “I didn’t know what to get you, but I love you, so here’s some scented soap…” kind of way.

 

It’s a little bit of joy, selling so many of these today. Helping to send some handmade love and care out into the world.

*****

The Bath

Baths have been forbidden
for ten days. Showers permitted
not long after surgery, but
baths were taboo, proscribed,
verboten. Unsure what to do
with this sudden wealth, first
there was reading. The prose
unremarkable, but the story
gripping. Then, watching
a show, while tending to feet
darkened by chemo (hyper-
pigmentation, it’s called) and
by garden soil that found its way
past flimsy shoe barriers.
Soaking and pumicing and
sugar scrub, and now these
feet are soft and smooth,
ready for kisses, should any
be offered. The bald scalp
has been washed as well,
dried and lotioned, and now
the faint trace of stubble has
a fuzzy halo, inviting touch.
Showers are refreshing, but
baths are seductive. Tonight,
maybe another bath, maybe
with wine and chocolates. I
will wrinkle into a raisin; you
will know me by my wrinkles,
soft and numerous and lush.

*****
Mary Anne Mohanraj
September 27, 2015

#serendibhome
#serendibkitchen

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