Posts Tagged With: Christmas baking

this is the Christmas of my childhood

In the process of preparing to move, I went through my little two drawer file cabinet. Wedged into the very back of a file folder was a small stack of recipes.
These recipes are older than I am.
I set these particular recipes aside, put them in a safe place.
You know how that goes…
Meanwhile, Thing 1 has patiently waited for nearly five years for me to present her with the apple butter recipe. This recipe came from the next door neighbor, and is in her handwriting.
My mom made this apple butter as long as I can remember. Thing 1 loved when her Grandmommy would make it for her when she was a little girl. I think this might be her ‘golden ticket’ recipe.

It feels serendipitous that I came across these as we were coming into this time of year.
Advent is sacred to me. This most anticipatory time of year. When we’re enveloped in the spirit of Christmas, filled with love and hope and light.
Having these recipes in my hand at this time of year is perfect because they are absolutely the Christmas of my childhood.

My grandmother added her thoughts to the recipes she wrote out, and in the upper left corner you can see the words: Good Toots Recipe!
‘Toots’ is the pet name my grandparents had for their beloved and longtime friend. Grandaddy always called her Toots, but to me, she was ‘Little Grandma’ because she was small of build.

Little Grandma made these gingerbread men every single year. They were, and remain my very favorite cookie. They always had red hots as eyes, and hard silver dragées as buttons. They snapped in the most perfect way, and had the spiciest ginger flavor.
She only made them at Christmastime.
In the years since Little Grandma’s been gone, I’ve eaten many gingerbread men. Some disappointing ones. Some damn fine ones. But none as delicious as the ones she made.

I’ve been saying to my own baking guru Thing 1, I want to make Little Grandma’s gingerbread men. This is my childhood, I say.

Then I stop for a moment and I think, this is my childhood, and realize I’m actually hesitant to bake from this recipe.
How much of my love for these cookies is directly linked to loving Little Grandma? How much of my love for these cookies is about being excited to spend time with her in her little craftsman house in Clarendon? How much of my love for these cookies is about nostalgia?
Are they actually as delicious as I remember?
Can I just go to World Market and buy some Nyakers Swedish gingerbread men and be content?
Will Thing 1 and I bake these cookies and break my heart?
Will one of the last precious things from my childhood be broken?

That’s my fear talking. My anxiety. My sadness.
I’m sad that I’m the only one who knows what I’m talking about when I remember. I’m sad my sacred and precious Christmas tradition memories are foreign to my daughters, to my husband.
I’m fearful that I’ll ruin those memories by trying to recreate them.

I have to stop and breathe.
I have to be more mindful.
Perhaps it isn’t about recreating as much as it is creating something new from something sacred.
After all, Christmas is about hope.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dude, I got mad skills.

Thing 1 sent me a message yesterday in the late afternoon: So, I totally didn’t inherit your wrapping ability.

This made me giggle.
It’s true that I have exceptional gift wrapping abilities.
mad-skills

I suggested it was because she didn’t have as many years of practice as I have.
She has fine motor dyspraxia. A condition that has plagued her all her life. I reminded her of this, and assured her that it’s not an excuse, but it can certainly contribute to having trouble.

She told me that she would wrap a gift beautifully and feel like she’s getting the hang of it, but then the next one would look as though a two year old wrapped it.

I think she needs practice. I offered to help her.
To which she replied the most Thing 1 thing: You must verse me in the ways of the present wrapping, oh mighty queen of the world.

Then she sent me a photo.
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I think they look pretty decent. No, they’re not up to my wrapping standards…but that doesn’t make a bit of difference. I absolutely love that Tiffany blue paper with the white swirls!

I feel the same way about wrapping gifts that I feel about folding laundry. I love it! Everything about it. The orderly-ness of folding and stacking. Getting the seams folded just right and taped up. Then bows and ribbons to make it froufy.
I’m thrilled to help her learn to make fancy pressies! Moms should always attempt to pass their skills along.
I don’t know that I’m especially good at it for any reason other than my love of the process.

Here’s a sample from under our tree.
20151210_131139

Does practice make perfect? Not always, there are times when I see a gift I wrapped and cringe. Then there are times when I’d like to start a museum for beautifully wrapped gifts.
I’m not sure it matters who wraps the prettiest gifts.
I don’t think N cares that Thing 1 may have wrapped his gifts a little wonkily.
I don’t think anybody I gift cares how much work I put into making their packages pretty.
I encourage the ripping of paper as gifts are being opened.
It all ends up going out with the recycling in the end.

And here’s a truth, that girl can out bake me eight times out of ten. Perhaps we’re just skilled at what we’re skilled at? Or are we simply better at doing the things we love?
Doesn’t matter.
I’ll wrap.
She can bake.
And that way, everybody ends up happy.

Categories: me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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