The holiday season is here and this year seems to hit a little different. Having experienced a great deal of loss this past year and realizing our holidays don’t look the same as they once did, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting. What can I do to keep things the same when it seems so out of my control?
In a world that is changing so fast, I hold on tight to memories of my childhood and the not so distant past. I imagine my parents and especially my grandparents do the same. I suppose thinking of my grandparents and how this world is practically unrecognizable, they may find comfort in the familiar. For instance, the tea cakes my Grandmother’s Grandma Bertie used to always make or the china and trinkets that used to belong to my grandparent’s parents. I find joy in keeping these familiar items close and even greater joy in being able to share them. A reminder to people, specifically my family, of the good ol’ days.
A way I do this started with collecting old cook books and sharing or reading the recipes with family members. I used to have a vegan diet but I loved collecting older Southern Living cook books from the sixties, seventies, and eighties. I was thoroughly amused learning popular cooking traditions of the past like Aspic, the canned goods craze, and how to throw a successful dinner party (centerpiece craft ideas included).
My vegan diet did not last beyond pregnancy so southern cooking has become almost a daily occurrence for my household. From fried green tomatoes, pineapple casserole, sausage gravy and biscuits, peas and cornbread, and the list goes on and on. When I share my cooking with someone and they tell me their Grandmother used to make that particular item it fills me with such excitement. Then the excitement is followed with anticipation for their reaction. Will they like it? Will the taste take them back to that moment with their grandmother as she handed them another slice of that delicious pound cake?
When someone sees my CorningWare casserole dishes and my Temper-Ware dish set I hope it reminds them of that small town church luncheon. Where Mrs. Mixon used to bring her pear salad in the exact same blue corn flower CorningWare dish. Reminding them of that feeling of being what felt like home. The small town church where “everyone spoke as though it was just natural that you a stranger to most of them should be sitting in their pews, taking part in their worship and singing, and later on sharing a meal.”
Having the desire to have supper cooked every evening and being intentional with the dishes I cook in, I believe comes from wanting to honor those that came before me. They paved the way for us. They did the hard work that most of us would struggle at the mere thought of living a day that way. They provided for their families, raised their children, cooked dinner, kept up the house, worshipped the Lord, fellowshipped with their neighbors and community, and did it all without complaint. They made their bed every morning! And for that alone I have complete admiration!
One afternoon about five years ago a client was speaking of his passions and aspirations. He proceeded to ask what I was passionate about and it floored me that I did not have an answer for him. As I thought and thought about this guys question I kept thinking about my family. This was at a time when I thought I didn’t want children. It’s interesting to look back at that day because I believe it really changed the trajectory of my life. My husband and I found God and that’s when I really started thinking about simpler times, slower times, knowing and caring for your neighbor.
Those times seem to be long gone but I can do what I can to help. Creating a moment to remind people of something familiar is what I’m called to do and so I will.