It was hot in the kitchen both Thursday and Friday nights as my grandkids and I had scurried around, preparing holiday goodies for the festivities that were to take place on Saturday. As I stirred this and floured that, my granddaughter asked, “Grandma, how do you know how to do this?”
Her innocent question touched a sensitive place in my heart as my thoughts traveled down roads of long ago Christmases in my own grandmother’s kitchen. My granddaughter is eight years old, about the same age as I, when I wondered at the skills of my grandparents in their kitchen. It was a sight to behold, indeed. Every available surface of their kitchen, and even some in the living room, had been covered with delicacies from the world cultures that made up our family. Sandbakkelse were my favorite, though I never really learned to make those – not well anyway. Rosettes, divinity, fudge, lefse and things I can’t even remember their true names were strewn about, filling the whole house with the scents of an old fashioned bakery.
“I learned from my mom and my grandparents,” was my response. How could I put into words the years of family gatherings that had been such an important part of my life as a child? Aunts and uncles with their children in tow would gather at the home of my grandparents for every important holiday. Cousins and second cousins would play outside in the snow at Christmas time, sometimes with a few playful aunts and uncles. It was a simpler time in life, where families didn’t live states or even countries apart.
As we worked, it occurred to me that these are the times my grandchildren will remember with me. They won’t recall the gifts I had carefully chosen for each of them. They won’t remember the wrapping paper, ribbons or bows. They will remember slopping chocolate covered pretzels from the bowl to the wax paper. They will remember the time Grandma had been covered with flour from head to toe. They will remember the sounds of the laughter and the warmth of love that had filled Grandma’s kitchen, those cold winter nights before Christmas. They’ll remember driving past the ‘Second Street Angel’ in Fargo, when Grandma remarked in a breathless, whispered tone, “She’s absolutely gorgeous!” Whenever they hear God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, or I’ll Be Home for Christmas, their hearts will long for those days in the kitchen with Grandma; a simpler time when the world stopped for a moment in time to delight in the true meaning of Christmas – a time when we have love for one another and hope for the future.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!