I Took A Bite of Memory

I took a bite of memory yesterday. It slid across my lips and landed on my tongue full of tantalizing reminders of Christmases past.

It took me back. Back to my early teens. We are living in a white house with a big Chestnut tree in the middle of the front driveway. The deck overlooked the garden and then the city below. The drive backed onto a hillside that took you up into the vineyards that dotted the edges of the Black Forest town in which we lived.  

Inside, the house is full of the smells and sounds of Christmas. My father is baking in the kitchen. Christmas music playing. Loud.

My sister, Anne, and I are squabbling over whose turn it is to vacuum and whose turn to clean the bathroom.

My mother is fluttering around, trying to keep dad’s dishes to a minimum and desperately trying to admonish Anne and I to ‘quit fighting’ and get to work.

My brother is wafting in and out from his room. Like a prince holding court, he stands (forever) in front of the full-length mirror in the front hallway trying to determine between blue shirt, white shirt or maybe a sweater? In the middle of turning this way and that, he asks Anne and me what we think of what ever he is wearing.

We roll our eyes and say, in unison, “Whichever”, and pretend to go back to doing our jobs.

It was our way, we’d placate our brother and then whine together, like co-conspirators in a bad spy movie, about how he always got to go out and do whatever he wanted while we had to do all the work around the house. Sometimes, if we got the tone and attitude just right, he’d think we were talking about him and pester us with questions. “What’d you say?” “What? You think I should go with the sweater?” “There’s nothing wrong with my hair today, right?”  We’d tell him we weren’t even talking about him and scurry off to get our jobs done so we could go meet our friends.

If high-fives had been a ‘thing’ in those days we’d have worn our palms out.

And through it all, my father would be bustling around the kitchen, elbow deep in flour and sugar and everything nice to make one of his many baked Christmas delicacies.

Yesterday, I took a bite of a piece of Stollen. I’d picked it up that morning fresh from the bakers and was transported back to those days long ago..

My father’s Stollen were home baked. It was his way. The kitchen was his domain during the holidays. And while deliciousness was his ethic, excess was his trademark.

In later years, when I was living in Canada and my parents had not yet moved back from Europe, my dad would parcel up a huge box of Christmas goodies and have them delivered by airmail to my front door.

That box came full of his loving hands spicing up every bite and, my mother’s hands too. Because, while the production of so many culinary delights was my dad’s purview, making it all look pretty was my mother’s gift. She shared it well.

Butter tarts. Tins of many different cookies. Pound cakes. Christmas cake.  All wrapped up in crinkly bows. Pretty, sparkly papers around each cake. Cheery tins of laughing Santas and elves and trees all dressed up in Christmas finery. It was a gastronomic and pictorial odyssey.

There was something for everyone in that box. Chocolates for my daughters. A treat for the dog. And always, wrapped in a piece of cheese cloth covered with wax paper, tin foil and red wrapping paper, there was a Stollen. Waiting to be devoured.

I took a bite of memory yesterday.

It tasted good in my heart.

14 thoughts on “I Took A Bite of Memory

    • So true Dale — it works for me every time — I just (finally) threw out the flowers my daughters’ gave me for my birthday. (Dec 9 – yup. they were drooping but I so wanted to hang onto them!) As I emptied the vase, that particularly pungent smell of old flower water took me back to being with my mother on Saturdays when I was a little girl and she let me help her arrange all the flowers around the altar.
      ❤ Such a sacred memory.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thanks for the foodie memories. When I was young and still living in the farm my parents would receive a Christmas hamper from family in England. It introduced me to British Christmas faves such as liquorice All Sorts, Cadbury Flake bars, Christmas pud, mushy peas, Scottish shortbread, orange marmalade (not my fave).. My mother would save grocery money to buy precious oranges and lemons. She saved the peels, boiled the peels in sugar syrup and made candied peel to enjoy in the winter months. Yesterday a dear friend delivered homemade lemon marmalade and candied peel, having recalled an earlier chat about Christmas memories. She made this Christmas extra special for me. I will savour a few pieces of candied peel at least through the coming “Middle Kingdom” (aka Ontario) lockdown.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your blog gave me the warm fuzzies this morning……such gifts of time and love that your parents gave at Christmas to make everything so very special for your family. Imagine doing all that wonderful baking and having it delivered to your door all the way from Europe. What precious memories of childhood for all of you to forever love and cherish- so full of love and kindness. ……bless parents everywhere for making Christmas traditions and times spent together so magical……..and bless you Louise for sharing your blog every day. Merry Xmas!🙏🏼❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah those are the best tasting wonderful memories. Yesterday I made eggnog and via text my daughter and I reminsced about my dad and his milkshakes and eggnog. I then sent her a picture of her handwritting with grampa’s recipe cards.

    Liked by 1 person

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