The countdown to Christmas is upon us. Tomorrow is my last day of work for the year. I have several items to put on my to-do list and they all involve flour, wrapping paper and washing powder. You got it: baking, wrapping presents and laundry. Ever-loving laundry.
What are your Christmas countdown plans?
(I have been practicing my Picmonkey skills. Like?)
A few days ago my mom asked me which were my favorite Christmas dinner recipes. I don’t really have any. I remember cranberry salad made with gelatin, celery and walnuts. I remember ham and mashed potatoes. But other than Brussels sprouts sautéed in garlic and bacon grease, I don’t remember really liking any of it, as a child or adult.
Now Christmas cookies on the other hand, I remember those.
There were snowballs (aka wedding cookies), no-bake peanut butter and oatmeal chocolate drops, kiss cookies, chocolate-dipped pretzel sticks, Congo squares, date pinwheels, snickerdoodles, shortbread, orange-glazed ones and chocolate chip peppermint bars.
There were others we begged mom to try from cookbooks, and I loved the way a flour fog hung in the air while we baked up a storm a few days before Christmas.
Every year, baking cookies with mom and my brothers and sisters has been a tradition, as was assembling and decorating a gingerbread house from a kit with my littlest siblings.
This year, my first as a married woman, I won’t be joining my family in the Christmas baking tradition, at least not at my parents’ home. And that makes me more than a little sad. I am thrilled to be where I am with my husband but I ache with a strange yearning almost like homesickness that I am not able to mix up that love with my sisters and mom.
Tonight I am making a list, checking it twice and tomorrow I am going to stock up on the ingredients for two of my favorites and a new one, not yet identified. Tonight I will mark my recipes and dog-ear the Southern Livings. Tomorrow I will make flour fly in my kitchen. And I will listen to Perry Como and Nat King Cole… and miss my family, miss my childhood.
I guess this is normal, right? This year has been a beautiful mosaic of metamorphic transition. This piece is another brilliant light in the picture. It will color with yellow all of the joyful reds and soul-satisfied purples. And it creates such a striking chorus of happiness in a rainbow kaleidoscope of this time in my life.
I will bake. And cry. And remember. And thank God for the memories, both old and new.