Saturday, January 12, 2019

Holiday Communion

The holidays arrived in a flurry and passed in a blur.  This year I appreciated the gift everyone seemed to be ready to bestow…time together.  We made gingerbread houses, ribbon Christmas trees, and did a cutesy-pootsey painted sign project that was more fun than I had expected.  I had less to put away this year and more to think about.

One thing that didn’t change is the regularly scheduled feast/gorge.  Every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas all of us contributing females get together and swear we are not going to make as much food.  Every year we say the same thing: too much food!  too many leftovers! this is the year we’re going to keep it to a minimum.  You know, the annual little white holiday lie.   In reality each of us continues to make her “regulars” and add a new dish to try every single year….it never fails.

Other dishes may come and go, but there are two staples to every holiday table in our family.  I make those, and I consider my contributions to be a non-religious communion of sorts because they are lovingly done in remembrance.

Must number one: 
I make Katie’s oyster dressing, a delicious concoct of onion, celery, bread cubes oysters and spices that has graced our holiday tables since our courtship.  Katie, my mother in law, always had every available surface covered with slices of bread for two days before Thanksgiving and Christmas.  From this caloric clutter she created her dressing, and everyone in the family loved it.  After we married, I spent holiday eves watching her make the stuff.  Her “dash of this, dob of that, and do this till it feels right” instructions mystified me as I took notes.  When I finally tried to fly solo there were several years my husband suffered through my inexperienced interpretation of that recipe.  There were times the sage turned the dressing a color of green only rivaled by the Christmas tree, while others were an almost tasteless clump of soupy bread.  But Larry hung in there with me, and my persistence paid off.  I have mastered Katie’s oyster dressing, I know she’d be proud of me.  Each year, as I put things together, I remember her working on this in her tiny kitchen.  It was a no-frills operation with no counter space, and I marvel at the variety of delicious dishes she turned out.  I make oyster dressing every year to honor this special woman.

My second must-have contribution:  Mom’s pumpkin cake.  This cake has been a part of our holiday celebrations for almost as many years as the dressing, but I only took it on a few years ago when mom wasn’t able to make it any longer.  For a couple of years I made the cake under her direction then,when we lost her four years ago, it became mine to do alone.   It is made from her handwritten recipe, delivered to the feast in the cake dish she always used that was taped to “keep it from sliding around in the car”.  Again, as I put ingredients into my Kitchen Aid mixer and pop it into one of my ovens, I marvel at how much mom did with so little equipment and space to work with.  She always delivered the cake and untaped the lid saying, “I’m not sure it’s any good.  I think I’ve forgot how to cook.”  Everyone knew that was the prompt to stick a finger in the icing and exclaim it was the best ever.  I make the pumpkin cake in memory of my mom and all the  family holiday memories that go with it.  

Holidays always bring back memories with no shortage of anecdotes to share.  I’m grateful for the time our crew spent together this year, and I hope your season was as busy remembering and creating new stories as ours.                                                   

                                                       Let's get on with that Happy New Year

                                                                           Life is Good

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