Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bittersweet Associations

Today, the day before Thanksgiving, is my annual baking day. For the last six or seven years, I've baked my grandma's Christmas cookies. Not living at home anymore, and not always sure I can get home, I wanted those cookies. Those cookies that I grew up on. So I got the recipe from my (adoptive) mom, and started making them. It is, for me, something of a spiritual ritual, reconnecting with my past and with my grandmother, who passed away over a decade ago. (If you want to see the cookies, I've got pictures at Over A Candle.

This year, it didn't feel the same. It felt almost like a chore.

The cookies are somewhat difficult to roll out, and very time intensive. And usually it is a joy to do it. Now admittedly, this year, my back seems to be acting up, so I was feeling a bit uncomfortable while I was baking, but that wasn't the real problem.

The real problem is that, with all the time to think, and with all the reminders of my (adoptive) mom present in the kitchen (because she made these cookies every year), it was hard not to think about her. And it just reminded me of how upset I am about that whole situation. I kept running through conversations with her. Some where I yelled. Some where I just was upset. And some where I felt resigned.

Maybe it was a mistake to bake the cookies. It's not as though I need the sugar. And it just seemed to put this whole situation with Christmas back in the front of my mind. They still taste good. But there is something a bit bitter about the whole thing.

I hadn't really thought this would be a problem when I woke up this morning. But the cookies are already done. And this is part of my holiday tradition, even if it is connected to some ambivalent feelings right now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Phil, if those cookies are a spiritual ritual reconnection with the past – I say hang on to the recipe! I don’t mean that lightly either. My mother’s recipes are some of the most important “things” that I have because recipes are not just some calculated formula with a predictable outcome. Recipes are sensory – they remind us of the times past, they become the future that we relive and share with those we love. Recipes are (and food is) such an integral part of who we are. I have prepared some of the recipes from my childhood for my son, and they don’t have the same feeling for him; they don’t resonate, they don’t connect him with anything the way they do me. Food is comfort, food is tradition, food represents our families in a much more basic way than “employment”. It is yet another way that I lost my son, but that is not to say that you shouldn’t enjoy the recipes that have been handed down to you by your family. Those are real and good, and if you had troubles while rolling out the dough, I don’t know, maybe ask gramma, but ya know Phil, your cookies aren’t going to come out perfectly every year either. Don’t be too hard on yourself! I think it’s pretty cool that you do what you do. Happy holidays!