The holidays are supposed to be filled with times to remember. Christmas lights and trees filled with ornaments and presents under them, the crackle of the fire in the fireplace and grandpa poking around complaining a bit about hot coals spilling out, and that slight smell of fireplace smoke adding to grandma’s cooking. This time of the year should be filled with Family, friends, great dinner’s, cookies and ice-cream, laughter, and good cheer. Like it was growing up and going over to Grandma’s house. A house that was filled with the aroma of old-fashion cooking, no boxed prepared delights purchased at the store for the usual two for one sale here.
Grandma was a product of the “can do” society. Where quality was emphasized over quantity, where hand-made was the definition of luxury, durability and longevity – and by her standards all these things also defined true love.
The home cooked meal, cooked from scratch, using ingredients that were time tested family secrets, were those memories burned into my head, that at times a single perfumed scent in passing could set off memories of the nostalgic past. Like fresh vanilla baked cookies and a good herbal tea.
Today we don’t have the time. We live in the go-go-get-em rat race of life. If I wanted to make cookies I would have to run out to the store, grab the prepackaged pack of whatever, and run home hoping that there was still had time to preheat the oven to bake them both, hoping all the while in that multitasking mindset that they both needed the same oven temperature. And all of this before my favorite TV show comes on.
It’s no happenstance that we live in this self-created environment of multitasking. Where we all think doing things fast – as fast can be, is the solution to our high-stress compressed ways. Funny how doing the unnecessary three times fast gives us all now-days the sense of accomplishment. Until the oxygen gets sucked out of the room with those same three things we completed in record time, begin to fall apart. Stress is reborn, and anxiety elevated, as we grumble to ourselves, nothing is made to last anymore.
So what if dinner tastes sweet! Doesn’t the hint of vanilla and pot-roast add to the cookies flavor complexities?
My tortured emotions from my torrid paced life required an overhaul. So this year I took some time off from my work. I risked whiplash while slammed the breaks down so to speak. Bringing my life’s speed down to the nostalgic past. At least to a pace I thought it was in the days of grandma cooking and Christmases long ago.
In my slow motion vacation I picked up some old time-tested cook books of grandma’s. Thumbing through them, as I slowly turned the pages of past memories in my mind. Suddenly I saw it. My eyes focused on an old cookie recipe that flooded my memory bank to a point that I tried to wipe some perceived crumbs off my face just as I had done when I was a kid. Ok! I’ll admit it. I stole some of these cookies, and crumbs always got me caught until I learned the art of hiding the evidence.
I placed the book on the counter while I gathered up the ingredients, quietly reminding myself this isn’t a race…. It’s a test of endurance. I placed the pan on the stove and turned it on. I quickly plopped some coconut oil into it, hoping to melt it to a liquid before adding the vanilla just as the recipe called for.
Damn! I forgot to get the vanilla out. I rushed to the cabinet that housed it, retrieved it, and returned to the holy-grail cook book to see the exact amount needed. I added it. Instantly flames shot up out of the pan up to the roof. I was completely sure I singed the hair off the front of my face. I instantly grabbed the burning caldron, but didn’t know just what to do with it. All the while flames were licking at the ceiling leaving their mark like a crazed child with a new box of crayons, running around marking the walls because someone forgot to also gift them paper to color on. The situation was tense and dangerous, after all I had a hold of a pot of liquid flame slopping around and up the sides of the pot as I dogged, bobbed, and weaved, around the kitchen looking for a place to put it down to extinguish the fire. Somehow the thought of multitasking, or bad hair days never crossed my mind. Yet it’s the first thought I have when I am faced with a tense situation at work minus the danger of course.
As life would have it I got the fire out, the pot didn’t survive, and cookies didn’t magically mineralize for me to enjoy though I had plenty of crumbs on my face. The holidays were spent repainting the kitchen. Luckily no one could make the cross country trip to come spend it with me. And even more lucky than that, I didn’t mention to anyone, in a braggarts way, that my Grandma’s vanilla cookies were the best in the whole wide world and that I was going to make some. No one had to suffer the disappointment of not having a taste – net alone; I didn’t have to explain the embarrassing story of why there weren’t any cookies to try. The only thing I need to do was to fabricate a great heroic story to explain my missing eyebrows and the slightly shorter hair on the front of my head. My recovering facial skin, though it was still rose colored, would defiantly hide some of the red from the embarrassment for the truth if I told it.
This year make some great memories but hold them just short of burning the house down. Throw multitasking to the wind, and apply yourself to the time tested — quality over quantity. For there is a reason that curtain memories hold their value like Rolls Royce’s and antique’s… and so make for great stories to tell at family gatherings – they just don’t make them like they used too.
All the best.