Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Blessed be the pies that bind....

It's that time of year again. I kind of love and hate this holiday madness that leads up to Christmas. I appreciate the significance of the holiday. God gave us His Son. GAVE us His son so that we might be able to spend eternity with Him in heaven. People talk about "Baby Jesus" as just a blip in history, but He's not a blip. He IS everything. That baby grew up to die for us. And His Father knew when time began that it would happen. It's mind boggling - especially when I look at my three SugarBabies and know that I won't even let the boys play in the front yard without supervision. Much less save mankind....

Anyway, the spiritual part of Christmas I cherish....the madness of the "Holiday Season?" Not so much. I don't like the pressure. I don't like the hurriedness. I don't like the anxiety. And this year, since my whole world has been turned upside down and shaken like a bottle of hot Dr. Pepper, I really was dreading it. In addition to the normal holiday stress, I am adding in a move, a MAJOR paper due for my grad school class, my Maw Maw not being with us, and various and sundry other emotional grenades that I am choosing not to blog about. It's a recipe for disaster, that's what it is.

Instead, I am choosing to forgo the crazy and appreciate this for what it is: the gift of time with my kids. The opportunity to carry on traditions an create new ones. We will put up the tree like we always do and decorate as soon as we are in the new house. Those decorations will NOT be shoved in the garage - they will be clearly marked and put in the living room where they belong and the tree will go up right after the beds are put together (priorities, people: sleep always wins). These sweet SugarBabies aren't going to be mine for much longer (when you look at the big picture). As fast as time has been moving, I know that if I blink twice, they will be off to college and then married with families of their own. So I am going to hold tight while I can and create memories.

Since an entire generation of our family has essentially passed on without our permission, I am now, finally, one of the grown-ups. Until now, we would go to my mom's house and then travel to my grandparents' or my Uncle's house for Thanksgiving. All I had to do was show up. Oh, sometimes, I would run to the store the night before to get an extra pan of dressing or some rolls, but I was never responsible for the BIG stuff. But this year, we are going to my Uncle Todd's house as usual - except my Maw Maw won't be there - and that will be weird and all kinds of wrong. There will be a hole. A huge gap where hugs and kisses and unconditional love and encouragement used to be. Oh, and no corn relish. She made it like nobody else can.

So, I've decided to take over pies. Maw Maw hadn't really done pies for years - my aunt did that. But since my Aunt is having everyone at her house and she and my mom are doing the lion's share of the food for dinner, I am taking over part of the pie making. Partly because I love making (and eating!) pies. And what's Thanksgiving without pie?! Also, and more importantly, because my kids like making the pies with me. And that is what I treasure most.

There's no cheating** either. We don't get the cans of apple or cherry or pumpkin pie filling. (Okay I guess we cheat a little, because we DO buy the canned pumpkin and the tart cherries in water. But only because there's no place to get fresh cherries here in Candyland like when we had our cherry tree in Ohio. And gutting a pumpkin? Ugh. No thanks.) But we DO peel and chop the apples. And we DO stir in the ingredients that turn the canned fruit into pie once it's baked. It's somehow magical to watch something as yucky as pumpkin guts turn into something as yummy as pumpkin pie. Same with the cherries. Every. time we make a cherry pie, one of the kids asks to eat one of the cherries before they go into the pan. And every time it's followed by an AWESOME pucker-face that I must get a photo of before it's too late.

But a few hours later, once it's all cooled, those concoctions are suddenly the yummiest thing in the house. And the waiting becomes AGONY. Already, I am hearing cries of "We have to wait till THURSDAY to eat them?" Yes. Yes we do. But it's our reward for patience.

Then? The look of pride on the SugarBabies faces as family gushes about how amazing the pies are and what a great job they did making them. I wouldn't trade it for the world. And I know with out a doubt that my MawMaw and my Nada Jane and my Grandma are looking down with pride as I pass on the tradition of good food and family ties. Because the rest of it just doesn't matter.

So we are off to finish the pies. Oh, and FUDGE. SugarPlum makes the most amazing fudge. It's magical. I have no idea how she does it, but it is HER signature. Her tradition to pass down to future generations. <-------See there? I just blinked again. Gotta go make memories.

**Exemption to the cheating clause: Pie crust. Pillsbury makes a much better crust than I (read: edible) and the mess is then kept to a minimum. This way we all win.