Tag Archives: traditions

Pans And Patience

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And a misplaced tradition…

Once upon a time, long, long ago, there were women in my family who made magical sweet treats and savory dishes.  My cousin Judy carries on her own version of the family culinary heritage.  I thought of her today as the first snow of the season fell, because on the first snow day every year, Judy likes to make a fruit pie.  I hope she enjoyed baking today and looking out at her beautiful snow-covered farm.

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WAY back in the day, both of Reed’s and my grandmothers, and also Aunt Martha, made apple stack cakes.  Apple is the only flavor I ever remember them making, at least.  I also remember the apples for many of those cakes being dried on window screens inside a shut-up car in Mamaw and Papaw’s yard.  Granny never referred to dried apples as apples; they were always simply called “fruit”.

Reed had the foresight to ask for lessons in stack-cake-making from both Mamaw and Aunt Martha.  The recipe itself is not a difficult one, but the making of a stack cake is a process.  I remember Reed saying that Aunt Martha told him it just takes pans and patience.  (I might add that counter space would be really helpful!)

It’s strange how so many of my food memories have become less about the food and more about the hands that prepared it.  Of course, every tooth in my head is a sweet tooth, and I do LOVE me all those yummy treats, especially the rare, special-occasion ones.  A few years ago at Christmas time, Reed got a hankering for a stack cake, but did not have the desire, pans, or patience to make it himself.  Fortunately, we have a high school friend who at that time owned a highly-acclaimed local bakery (she has since sold it to her niece, so it remains in good hands).  Reed mentioned to Peggy that he sure would love a stack cake, and Peggy said something along the lines of, “I can hook your a$$ up!”

And hook it up she did.  He brought this humble-looking, beautiful creation to Christmas Eve at Dad’s house, and eventually we tore into it.  The moment I took a bite, I burst into grateful tears.  Decades disappeared, and my mouth and mind were flooded with the flavor of nostalgia.  Once more, I was reminded that tastebuds and heartstrings are directly, and closely, connected.

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People of faith often talk about Heaven being a wedding feast, or a banquet.  I like to believe that this is true.  And I like to imagine the tables there, laden with something to satisfy every craving, and plenty of room for everyone to share in the marriage supper of The Lamb.

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(I shared this recipe for a church cookbook shortly after I was married.  The amount of fruit needed was not specified, it’s just something you have to eyeball…but more is better.)

It’s OK…

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…if you’re not OK…

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I understand how hard your year has been, truly.  Mine has had its moments of sadness, frustration, pain and doubts too.  While most people seem to be overjoyed at the prospect of having a long weekend, pigging out on turkey and dressing, ham and mac & cheese, eating, drinking and being merry, you might not be feeling so festive right now.  Neither am I.

And that’s OK.

We can be thankful and still feel sad sometimes.  We can appreciate our blessings while mourning our losses.  In fact, I think the losses sometimes make our blessings seem more precious, because we realize how quickly those blessings can be taken from us.

I had friends die this year, people I loved while they were here and continue to love now that they are in Heaven.  I know people you love have died this year too, and this will be the first Thanksgiving that a loved one’s place at the table will be empty.  You might cry.  I might cry.

And that’s OK too.

I hope that your tears are softened by laughter as you remember your loved one, the good times you shared together and the many Thanksgiving meals you put away.  I hope the hole left in your family circle is closed up a little bit as the rest of you draw closer together to try and fill in that space.  I hope you can take a few minutes to be alone, if you need to…to breathe deeply, to pray and to give thanks even in the midst of sadness.

And I hope you know that no one is expecting you to be perfect, to put out a flawless meal or to re-create that Norman Rockwell fantasy holiday.  Be real with your loved ones.  Tell them if you’re having a hard time.  Share your heart with them.

It’s OK.

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(Me and Aunt Ruby, Thanksgiving 2012.  We had no way of knowing it would be her last Thanksgiving with us.  Now she sits at Jesus’s table, feasting on His goodness and waiting for the rest of us to arrive.)