Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Christmas Cooking/Baking (not recipes) (10/16/08)
TITLE: The Baking Must Go On
By Annora Williams
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ADD TO MY FAVORITES
My memories of Christmas are comprised of many things. There are the carols, trees, presents, visits with family, church services, and definitely the food. No real holiday gathering is complete without plenty of food for everyone. But my memories do not focus on the big meals with the good china and adult and child tables as much as they zero in on the treats and smaller meals along the way.
My grandmother, Mema, started her baking not long after Thanksgiving. The recipes would come out the shopping list of essentials. Pots and cookie presses were organized. I don’t remember ever participating in the actual preparation of the goodies, but I distinctly remember the ecstasy of getting my own cookie tin full of them. Mema made sure that family members each had their own to consume so there would be less fussing.
The tins would be full of all sorts of delectable morsels. She made fudge, white divinity, cookies with colored frosting and, my own personal favorite, cheese straws. I’m getting hungry just thinking of these. But I digress. These cookie tins were more than just things to eat but were an outpouring of love. Mema spent hours whipping of those gifts from the heart and we enjoyed each and every bite.
Several years ago, Mema came to a point where she knew that her years of baking were coming to an end. As part of my Christmas gift that year, I received a gift more precious than the actual goodies. Mema had boxed up her own cookie press, and the many recipes she used for her creations and passed them to me. Some were cut from magazines while others were in her own handwriting with extra notes on the side. What an honor it was to see these items. But also rather intimidating.
The next year I took on the task to make the cookie tins as Mema had always done. My sister came over and together we attempted to recreate our favorites from the tins. We knew better than to try and take on all of them. Mema was a pro and had been doing this for years. We started with just a few and filled our own gift boxes to pass out. I was most concerned with Mema’s opinion of our efforts. She smiled as she opened her tin and tried one of her tried and true recipes that had come from younger hands this year. The smile on her face warmed us from the inside out. She approved.
I know that my first attempt- and second, and third- were still not up to Mema’s but I keep trying each year and add something else from her recipe collection. There are a few I am desperately wanting to perfect but have not yet. So I keep baking each year.
Mema left her Earthly home a few short years after passing the torch to me. Now when I get out the recipes and cookie press, it is a way of being close to her and connecting with the memories I have of her. Not just at Christmas but throughout the year.
Thanks, Mema for entrusting me with this marvelous gift. One day I’ll finally get that divinity right.
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