Today I begin my holiday cooking. I shake in my boots as I confess this. I might be the only southern woman ever born without the cooking gene. Nevertheless, this is the time of year, I grab my grandmother’s green apron, and tie it around my waist. She is a wonderful cook. Maybe her apron will inspire me, and steer me in the right direction as I stir.
Over the next several days, I will grab that green apron over and over again. I will read, and re-read the recipes just to make sure I’m doing it right. I will fret. A lot. I will call my mother, and get clarification on measurements. I will wonder why in the world I feel compelled to take on this task, especially after last year’s kitchen fiasco that had cookies smoldering, and smoke alarms blaring.
I will cheat and turn to the internet and try to find shortcuts and easier ways to complete the dishes I hope to create. I will fail at this and return to the index cards written in my mother’s hand. I will clean my glasses with the corner of my grandmother’s green apron, and take a closer look.
I will get a cookie sheet and fill it with the ingredients called for on the cards. I don’t know why I do this. There is something about the symmetry of the pan that provides a visual border, and makes the individual containers of spices and food products look less chaotic and intimidating to me. I will line them up in the order I will use them, and pray that I don’t forget to include a crucial ingredient, like I did that one Christmas years ago. My family still gets a kick out of telling the story about that one particular chocolate pie – the one that looked more like a milkshake than a pie underneath the fluffy white meringue.
Once set, I will wash my hands, then dry them with my grandmother’s apron. I will then carefully follow the family recipes step by step. Before long, the aromas of my childhood will envelope me and scent the room. My kitchen will smell like love. Outside it may be rainy and gray, but inside, I will feel warm, and safe. I will feel the presence of all the loved ones, those still here, and those who have passed on, whom each holiday season, nourished my soul as they nourished my body with the dishes they prepared for me.
Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele