Thursday, September 17, 2009

Lets make a memory

Our memories cradle our grief and preserve our joy.

Donning an apron instantly takes me back to my childhood. Every Sunday morning our family; Frederick, Val, Fred, Mark, Grandmother and I always attended 11:30 mass at Sts. Simon & Jude Church. My father sang in the church choir. Each week a different child was selected to sit with our dad in the choir loft. I thought this was such a special privilege, in reality, it was because my mother did not want to wrestle with three children in the church pew by herself.

Getting dressed in our best clothing and going to church together for Sunday mass was a predictable event. After mass we always gathered for a special “Sunday Afternoon Dinner”. Early Sunday formal dinner was a carry over from the Rice side of my family. My mom was not so happy with this task, however, she and her mom worked in the kitchen every Sunday morning to get the roast cooking in the oven while we were at church. My grandmother was 72 years old when I was born. I can still picture my elderly grandmother working with my mom, in dresses, to complete the meal for serving in the dining room by 1:00pm. Each Sunday meal was a small dress rehearsal compared to the feasts they created for Holiday meals.

One of my favorite memories is that my mom & grandmother always wore beautiful aprons when they in the kitchen baking biscuits, cakes, pies or apple dumplings and putting the finishing touches on the meal. The big treat for me was being allowed to wear one of their apron as I set the table with the good china dishes. Dressed in a special apron I loved to twirl around and make up dances. This was so much fun that often I wore the apron all day.

Our family dinners lasted for hours. Because grandmother lived with us, almost every Sunday, members of my mom's relatives drove out to visit. Hospitality was natural with my mother. As family members arrived she would find spaces for another chair around the table. Pouring cups of coffee into china cups we savored the remnants of the meal, desserts, and the time we spent together. It was in this rich soil my love of family history sprouted roots. Gathered around this table that I grew to love family members both living and those that were dead before I was born. Hearing stories about these people made them real to me forming a loving connection to my ancestors. I listened intently as the adults laughed, sang, shared family jokes, stories as well as the remaining German words that they could remember.

Life is so much different than it was when I was a young girl in the 1960's. I was born into what was considered modern times yet those days seem very different than the society that makes up family life today. Technical advances has made families living within close proximity less common event. When I was young something called blue laws were still in affect to encourage families to attend worship services together, promoting Sunday as a day of rest. Presently, shopping, sports or working on Sundays has replaced this meal in many families. It was a privilege to grow up in an home where family connections were valued. We were far from the Walton family or Little House on the Parries. In no way am I suggesting we were perfect or wonderful, still, there was something special about weekly gatherings of the family as peculiar as we all were.

Barry is flying home from New York City tomorrow. His is successful in his career and happy with his life that could not exist as it is outside of NYC. When Barry comes home I love to create meals inspired by the season. We savour these long, leisurely meals. Since it is the end of September I am planning to celebrate Oktoberfest this weekend.

This week I have been paging through my German cook books as well as the well worn 1930 copy of the New Delineator Recipe book that belonged to my grandmother.

I am planning to make the family recipes for bratwursts, sweet & sour red cabbage, grated potato pancakes with sour cream and bakes apple dumpling for dessert. Of course this will be accompanied with German Spezial beer, fresh brewed coffee, long talks, laughing and pics as I add one more page to our family memory book.

I will share some recipes and pictures of our gathering next week.


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