Sunday, November 25, 2012

Love Carries on Through Cooking

"Thankful for tradition. Going through pantry making sure I have everything I need for Thursday, thinking we always make the same things and realizing that's what its all about! Family, tradition, and still tasting moms cooking even though she is no longer at our table."

Last week my Aunt Maggie posted that as her Facebook status. It was profoundly touching and really moved me. She put something into words that I hadn't ever been able to get down on paper or in a coherent sentence.

I love the song "There is No Place Like Home for the Holidays" every time I hear it my mind immediately goes to my grandparents home at the holidays. Even though their home is gone and I live far away from my family through cooking I am never very far away.

We were raised steeped in tradition at the holidays. My Grandmother loved the holidays, she had the most beautiful home at the holidays and her food always tasted good. We just never thought of the day she would be gone and we would be left to carry on the traditions.

Grandma's beautiful tree

Last week, my friend Mary asked for a stuffing recipe. Our family makes the easiest, most flavorful stuffing recipe that grandma passed on. For me that happened over the phone after I had moved away from home and family. I never had written it down, simply put I hear Grandma in my head when I go to make it. The recipe is in my head and I like recalling the phone conversation where she taught me. I wrote it down for the very first time to share with her. ( she loved it by the way)

This year was my cousin Caiti's first year away from home and family. It has always amazed me how I can live a few hundred miles away yet still eat the same meal as my family. The recipes and traditions have allowed me to carry on far away from home. I make all the same dishes as my family by myself every year for my own family.

This year as I was cooking, I thought about Maggie's quote and realized that Grandma is never very far. I could feel her close while making the stuffing. I can always go "home" to my childhood, when I smell the food cooking and the smell of " home" invades my home.

Traditions and recipes are a way to stay behind and love our family someday when we are gone. They are a mother's love for her children leaving a part of herself behind. I love cooking my grandmothers recipes and feeling them near once again. 

Now we are teaching our children the recipes and traditions to carry on, My kids already know the menu and shopping list by heart. Elizabeth is already asking about our cookie baking list for next month. Conner already knows how to make the cranberry relish on his own.

Someday when we are gone, the traditions of grandmother and great grandmother will live on. In fact, yesterday I made a apple cake recipe of my Aunt's which is the closest recipe to my Nana's recipe. I can still see my great grandmother making that apple cake for me in Kansas. Tasting that is like sitting in Nana's kitchen in Pittsburg.

Grandma, Gramie and Nana are never coming back but I still feel the close in the kitchen and home. I am thankful for a family that teaches each other tradition and honors our elders. I am thankful to have learned from wonderful women and help carry on their legacy. 

Thankful that someday, my children will carry the legacy on also. The saying is true, " A Mother's love lives forever"

Do you have family traditions? Recipes that you make? Do you have things that bring loved one's gone before us closer?

A/N Thank you Maggie Z for allowing me to quote you. Also to my friend and reader Teri for asking me to write a blog on this subject.