Saturday, December 22
Baking and belonging
Beautiful day today. Christmas-y.
Grey skies, but the snow is falling.
Freezing outside. Warm by the oven.
Gifts wrapped under the tree (this hardly ever happens for me before Christmas Eve)
Dog sleeping on the couch wishing she could go out for a walk in the -20° weather.
Preparation lists are made and ready to be checked off.
Last night I was contemplating (OK, think/complaining) about how much of the Christmas preparation is Mom's job. Shopping, wrapping, baking, cooking, decorating. But then in a flash of recollection I remembered several blogs I had read this past week on the beauty of "normal" and how, so often, just being with our family is such a forgotten blessing. Attitude check. So very happy to be able to do THIS.
Got me to thinking about 6 Christmases ago when my Dad was so suddenly taken from this world and how glad the family was to have each other around the Christmas Day table even though we all were still in shock about Dad being "home for Christmas". I think about that each year around this time. That the real gift is having people you love, who love you back. Belonging to another. Being someone's daughter. Someone's friend. Someone's mother. Someone's someone special. All the rest is just tokens of that. Reminders of the real thing.
Like many families, ours has some that won't be there for Christmas. My Dad. My grandparents.
But we will remember them through shared memories. For me and many in my family we have food memories. Music memories. Holiday memories.
Going to my grandparent's house and making a giant puzzle over the course of several days. Aunts and uncles putting in a few pieces here and there. My grandma putting in a few more. Children scrambling to find one to press in. (Do you remember the sweet feeling of pushing a piece in and having it just fit?) And always there were grandma's buns. No one could make them like her. She didn't even use a written recipe she had made them so many times. As a teenager, I thought that someone had to learn to make "Grandma's buns" because one day she won't be around to make them and the recipe will be lost forever. So I went over one day and she talked me through the procedure, and I wrote it down.
Well, today as I was making "Grandma's buns" for the umpteenth time, I did a mental flash forward to tomorrow when we gather around my extended family's table in Spruce Grove and how we will all remember Grandma as we pass around the bread basket. And how we will remember my maternal grandmother as we pass the "corn pudding".
And I will forever think of my son Colson when I make the "candy cane cookies" - his request every year! My daughter always wants sugar cookies. And my son Evan wanting the gingerbread cookies from the recipe I got from his Kindergarten teacher on the first day he went to school.
My Mom always brings the Krem (a Swedish dessert from dried fruit and served with whipped cream and chopped walnuts, and a marachino cherry on top if you prefer).
There will be a turkey. Tons of mashed potatoes for my nieces who will make mountains and pour in a lake of gravy. But there will be a gathering of hearts. Amidst the table talk and passing of pickles and laughing over how we serve up pickled herring that so few people take, we will hold our family collection of memories with those around the table and those who are watching from heaven. We will hug and laugh and pass out presents, and be glad to belong to each other.
The food is just a token to remind us of that. Maybe that's why we call it our comfort food.
Comfort and Joy to you this Christmas!