I take great comfort in the rituals of tradition. Of the seasons.
The white of snowdrops, in early spring. The tulips that follow, like obedient dogs. The yellow gold of daffs shortly afterwards. The buying of those bulbs in early autumn, and the inevitable rush to plant them in December, when I realise that I’m running out of time.
My brother and I used to get quite a production line going of gingerbread men, and other seasonal cookies. The dough for Mom’s recipe had to be chilled. Which was a bit of a pain, as was trying to roll the stiff, cold gingerbread flat enough to use the cookie cutters. We had some red plastic ones with fine detailing, but they were difficult to use, and clean. We mainly stuck to the plain metal ones. Simple, but effective.
We decorated our gingerbread cookies with generous sprinklings of red sugar, and green sugar. And, of course, beetlepoppers.
My husband recently found a source of American sweets at our local market, here in Doncaster. He even brought me a bag of Hershey’s Kisses. This means, as he just happened to mention, I can make “secret kiss” cookies. (1) Or, to use the family name for them, “greasy balls”. (2)
I have some of Mom’s old recipe cards, in amongst our loose-leaf binder of magazine cuttings, handwritten instructions, and other recipes. All the ones from Mom are for baked goods, including the secret kiss cookies. Mom’s recipe cards are typed, but I was delighted to re-discover that she had written notes on some.
I don’t always deal well with the loss of my mother. Indeed, leaving aside all the hype and overspending, which I can and do generally ignore, the worst thing about the winter celebrations is the way they point up loss.
Many posts in this blog have touched on my mother’s passing. The previous one was mainly about missing her at Christmastime.
For the last few days, however, part of my time has been devoted to fulfilling a request from my elderly father, who still lives in my home state of Michigan. Are you sending me a Christmas cake? he asked, in a way that was less question, than order.
I am (see photo at the top of this blog). It was baked yesterday, and decorated this morning. I hope it survives the UK post, and US mail.
Good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, as Dad would say.
(1) Yes, “cookies”. It’s an American recipe. When I make British recipes, the cookies magically become biscuits. It’s a Christmas miracle…
(2) That name didn’t sound nearly as disgusting when I was a kid. Or before I moved to CarryOnFilmland, for that matter.