Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Christmas Cooking/Baking (not recipes) (10/16/08)
TITLE: Lessons From Grandma
By Shelley Ledfors
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“Yah, glugs. Tip the bottle, and glug, glug, glug, don’t ya know?”
I smiled at the memory as I added oil to the other ingredients…just like I’d been taught so many years before.
Over three dozen Christmases had passed since Grandma Petersson had taught me how to make her gingerbread cookies. I’d followed her recipe every year since. Oh! I did learn something very important in my first few solo attempts at making the fragrant creations, though. When measuring by the glug method it’s very important to use an oil container similar in size and shape to the one Grandma always used. …All glugs are not created equal!
Grandma’s cookies had been a tradition as long as anyone could remember. But they were only made at Christmastime, for some reason no one could ever quite explain to me. I asked about that once…
“Grandma, why can’t we make some of your gingerbread cookies for the church’s Fourth of July picnic? We could decorate them like flags and stuff.”
I never did get an answer. At least not one I could understand. Oh, Grandma did reply, but lapsed into Swedish, as she often did when particularly impassioned about something. But even though I couldn’t make out a word of her answer, her tone of voice and the accompanying arm waving left little doubt as to what Grandma thought of my proposal. I never asked again. Nor have I ever made the cookies for any time other than Christmas…even after all these years.
“Need any help, Mom?” Becky wandered into the kitchen and snitched a pinch of dough.
“No thanks. You just go on and play with Bree in the family room. I can watch you from here.”
My visiting daughter stretched out on her stomach on the floor beside the crackling fire. In front of her sat her daughter, who bounced on her bottom, clapped her chubby hands and giggled with glee when the blocks they stacked tumbled to the floor. Things had come full circle. Oh, my granddaughter wasn’t quite old enough then to learn Grandma’s cookie recipe. But I looked forward to when she was!
I longed to teach Bree some of the other lessons I’d learned from Grandma, too. Things like generosity, helpfulness…even selflessness (oh, what a foreign concept that is to many these days!) Again, the cookies provided the perfect example. Grandma made dozens and dozens and passed them out to friends and strangers alike. She’d also teach anyone who wanted to know, how to make the treats themselves. I do suspect that somewhere along the line many adapted Grandma’s glug measurement to something a bit more conventional, though!
She was the epitome of love-in-action. She didn’t hesitate for one second to take me in and raise another child--long after hers had grown--when my parents were killed in a car accident. And her caring extended far beyond family. People knew that whenever they needed a helping hand, all they had to do was let Mrs. Petersson know. She’d always do whatever she could. And if she required extra help to meet someone‘s need…she’d just conscript assistance. I don’t think anyone was ever so foolish as to try to refuse her more than once. Grandma on a mission was a force to be reckoned with!
Cookies finished and cooled, I packaged up several dozen to take with us to the service at the church that Christmas Eve. I slipped one small bag of the treats into my pocket. I had something special in mind for them.
I must admit; little of the service registered with me. My thoughts returned to Grandma and how important she had been to me...and to many others. But, it had been years since then. I was sure most would have forgotten long ago. As people grow old and less capable, they soon fade from the memories of all but a very few. That’s always seemed a shame to me.
After the service I visited with friends in the foyer. Finally, I broke away, came back into the sanctuary and made my way up front.
Even through blurred eyes, I could see that she was still beautiful. Although I knew what I viewed was a mere shell. The precious spirit which had dwelt within for more than a century had left to soar with the Lord. I blinked to clear my vision, reached to place my gift…and gasped.
The edges of tufted satin were lined with Christmas gingerbread cookies.
Author’s Note: The “glugs” part of this story is true. The one learning a recipe was my mother-in-law…a then young, new-to-the-US British war bride. Her Swedish mother-in-law demonstrated how to make the dish. Not quite sure how to note the oil measurement in the recipe she was trying to write, my mother-in-law just wrote it down as described to her…three glugs.
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