Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Recipe for...

It's December 23 - Christmas Eve eve as my kids have called it and that is a heavy duty baking day in this house. So I found myself pulling down the recipe box - largely empty thanks to the digital age and printers but housing a few family favorites - and sorting through the recipes we will be using today.

They are stained and brittle. Some are written on the backs of notes left for, or by, my husband in the days before texting. Absently pulling a folded slip, I think I should recopy them and organize this box.  Then I recognize familiar writing smudged here and there with a stained and dog eared corner. It's my mother-in-law's - though I never thought of her as that.  She was a friend and confidant. 

The day comes flooding back. Missing her traditional family Christmas dinner of homemade manicotti she called the family matriarch and obtained the recipe - jotting it down on nondescript paper. We spent hours flipping and filling the delicate crepes laughing while we rolled manicotti for freezing. Over the next couple years we perfected the technique and shortened the time. But it was always an evening affair - accompanied by dinner, talking about nothing, and often teasing her son relentlessly. Then she was gone. Too soon. 

But here she is - popping out among the recipes. 

With a more sentimental spirit I look again at the scraps of paper and I see them differently. This one in my husband's hand and obtained from my sister because he had to learn to make her mini cheesecakes. We lived in another house then - much younger but already creating our own traditions. Traditions that we hold today. That one from my mother, written in her hand - a favorite of us both but happily not loved by the children. There are so many more - from friends and family, favorites all. 

A box of old recipes, a day of baking. a few memories shared. That is the meaning of this day for me unlike my children who see it as cookie day. And if Ma is looking down I hope she smiles a bit as I roll my largely imperfect discs into cheesy filled goodness that have become Christmas staple for my family, much as it was for her's. 

Merry Christmas baking day! 
And may your day be filled with memories to cherish in the years to come.