And all in all, I have been more peaceful this Christmas season than I usually am. I can’t say for sure why that is, but I am really enjoying this renewed sense of peace that I am experiencing. I guess that is appropriate because today is the second Sunday of Advent – the day that represents the peace of the season.
It was in this frame of mind that I decided to start baking Cranberry bread today. When I was a young boy, I helped Mom with her signature treat each Christmas and, throughout the years, I learned how she made loaves upon loaves of her special bread for just about everyone in the neighborhood – our family friends, the grocer, milkman, postman, teachers at our school and many other people who loved Mom’s baking. She was an awesome chef, having been formally trained for years at cooking school and I was glad to be at her side learning the tricks of the trade as I grew up. Those were special times in my life.
As Mom aged and became more infirm, her cooking gradually slowed and then all but stopped. It wasn’t anything sudden – it just kind of slipped away a little bit at a time. Our kids don’t remember the Chicken Oriental with the handmade noodle nests that Mom made every New Year’s Eve – to be shared with Janet’s parents – Mom and Dad’s best friends. I still remember Dad hard at work taking instruction from Mom – helping her create her fabulous meal; we always looked forward to New Year’s Eve with the Boyds.
Throughout my childhood, even ordinary dishes like Chipped Beef on Toast or Spaghetti were somehow special when Mom cooked. But Cranberry Bread – it was legendary. When Mom finally passed away, more than 22 years ago, I got her Kitchen Aid mixer – the same one she used when I was a boy. It still works great and I can’t even begin to describe the memories that flood back to me whenever I lift it off the top shelf of the pantry – but for many, many years it never moved from its place.
I guess that the memories gradually died with Mom although those early days of being in the kitchen with her stayed somewhere buried deep in my head and heart. Then, surprisingly, several years ago, I decided to break out the old recipe and try my hand at making Cranberry bread. Mind you, it had been at least 30 years since I last tasted her Christmas treat.
The first year it was all about the memories. The familiar task of picking out the bad cranberries (my old job), using the mixer without Mom at my side, chopping the walnuts, using her old kitchen utensils to measure ingredients… it was strangely familiar but it’s an entirely different season of my life. Then, I was the youngest living generation and now I am the oldest living generation! How time flies!
During the past several years I have become okay with that. At first I was sad… I missed baking with Mom – and who knows, maybe that’s why I didn’t do it for so long. But when the kids got a taste of Mom’s recipe, they craved it and now Cranberry bread is once again a staple on our home during the Christmas season. The old became new again. So today, once again, I travelled down memory lane, wrapping the finished loaves in aluminum foil and thin ribbon just like Mom used to do.
Our verse for tonight is from the apostle Peter. In his second epistle, Peter tells us, in 2 Peter 1:12-13, “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body…” Now, Peter was speaking of the ways that we should act in response to our love of Jesus. But it also applies to the traditions of our families. We should continue to refresh the memories of our loved ones.
My encouragement this evening is that we will take time to reinforce the faith and teaching of our kids – and their kids… My prayer is that we will be a link from the past to the future and that, especially during this season, the peace of Jesus will be yours. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…