The November Door of Thankfulness has been unlocked and opened for just a few days, yet Mother Winter surprised us with our first snow before those fall leaves could take our breath one final time during their encore burst and presentation of color, foregoing some leaves their chance to perform before we raked them into fall’s good-bye.
Things happen which catch us off guard and unaware and make it easy to miss an opportunity to be grateful. I must confess though, my husband and I had hoped for a few more sweater wearing afternoons seated together for a stolen moment on our couple’s bench listening quietly to music the wind was playing while running its fingertips through the chimes.
Sadly, the theater of fall has had its final curtain call a few days ahead of schedule, closing its doors until opening day next year, with a reminder to be grateful no matter the season.
November weather may be crisp from the kitchen window I allow to be open throughout the winter season to usher in the sounds of life outside to keep me company. No need to worry though; a space heater warms me during my tasks at the kitchen counter, much to the raised eyebrows from my husband paying the bills.
Nothing stokes the embers of gratefulness in me more than the songs of Christmas and holiday baking.
I’ve never been one who celebrates the holidays according to their order placement on the calendar.
Whenever I am missing my mother terribly and that little girl inside longs for the Norman Rockwell greeting card ambience mother presented for her five daughters and one son every year during the month of December, I recreate mother’s Christmas kitchen to bring me a bit closer to her.
Oh, if I could go back into Mother’s boxes and set aside an apron or two for holiday baking before we sadly packed up her house. While I’ve never worn the old-fashioned aprons while baking, I wish mother would have dressed us in aprons during those memory making moments while teaching her children to cook.
Mother needed her aprons as in her excitement, she stirred up a windstorm of flour while rolling out sugar cookies and pie crusts and leaving her indelible handprint of grease onto the recipes she followed. I was always grateful for this hilarious visual of mother; even more grateful when it wasn’t my week to do dishes during holiday baking.
My sister Denise inherited mother’s cookbook of traditions she gave us during the holidays. The Thanksgiving meal and memories of stuffing, sweet potatoes, turkey and gravy and all those pies remain in mother’s recipe box, albeit some were handwritten on lunch bags or the back of envelopes. Yet no matter how we followed each menu item to the final tablespoon, there was always one special ingredient missing: our mother.
The invitations of holiday’s past remind us that mother’s name has been absent from the guest list going back three long years, with our Thanksgiving table being the first to sadden our hearts with mother’s empty chair.
As the years have passed us by, so has a few of the traditions mother instilled into our family scrapbooks.
Mother would be mortified to witness her son ‘n law Brad baptize Brother Tom into a deep fryer instead of her method of roasting the turkey throughout the day beginning at the start of Macy’s parade. Thankfully, mother’s daughter Denise kept the tradition in place and another turkey was prepared for those family members who liked their memories just as they were.
Though we loved mother’s stuffing recipe when she prepared it, a new stuffing has made the holiday table; a recipe I learned from my children’s southern grandmother in Kentucky. This will be our family secret.
The card table has a new shark to take mother’s place, albeit by force and coercion. Turns out I proved to be a great competitor in mother’s chair; oh, she would be proud.
We laugh, and still cry at times for our mother during the holidays when we remember the angel on the Christmas tree she was to our family. She lit up our lives and our memories, and neither has been the same since her untimely good-by.
So, whenever I am missing my mother terribly as I was just the other day, and that little girl inside longs to reminisce her Norman Rockwell greeting card presented every year during the month of December, I recreate my mother’s Christmas kitchen to bring me a bit closer to her.
My efforts might fall short to mother’s homemade pies I recall as a child, which is probably the reason I am never assigned the pies for holiday dinners.
But I’m forever grateful for the kitchen memories she gave us during the holidays.
They are always worth remembering.