Saturday, December 23, 2006

I Don't Have A Title

And don't feel like thinking of one. So there!

Today is my maternal grandmother's birthday. She would've been 87. Tuesday is the anniversary of her death. She's been gone 12 years. Christmas is bittersweet for my mom--some years, she only goes through the motions--you can tell her heart isn't in it. But time is making it better.

I find myself recalling the strangest things about my grandmother (Mam-maw). She called earrings, "earbobs." She had a fierce attitude. And she may have been the greatest cook in southern history. I'm not just saying that cuz she's my grandma--people came from all over the area to eat her cooking. Her house was the first stop any out of town relatives made. And while my mom and some of my older cousins and aunts are no slouches when it comes to soul food, I've never tasted anything like her cooking. She made everything from entrees to dessert from scratch. I remember her mixing German Chocolate and pound cakes by hand--she only used mixers when she got older and tired easily. I think that's a big part of the reason that so many of our non-holiday family get-togethers are still centered around food--woe to my hips and thighs.

I've finished my Christmas shopping--it has reinforced my determination to have no more children. I have one child, four godchildren (yes, I have a new one!), seven nieces and nephews, and a slew of young cousins. So I'm a sucker for a sale. With an age range of 6 months to 19 years, one of the children is bound to be able to wear it! But I've given up feeling guilty about being a shopaholic for the kids--some things just never change.

Anyway, I'm finally getting in the exhausted-thank-God-this-comes-once-a-year frame of mind.

Back on the topic of food (one of my favorites :-), let me sketch the anatomy of a rural Louisiana Christmas dinner. As I type, my mom is boiling chicken for dressing, baking a pound cake, and searching for "old meat" for her purple hull peas. I've decided to make a cheesecake from scratch, some macaroni and cheese, and a broccoli-rice casserole. The greens, ham, and hot water cornbread (none of my city friends know what that is--I'll explain one day!) will come from my cousin T and her mom and sister. My other aunt will make a roast and pecan pie. Several someones will invariably bake sweet potato pies. There's bound to be a chocolate cake, a lemon pie, and some chocolate pies. Someone will bake or fry chicken. And, I fear, that is just the beginning. We will scramble to find other, more distant relatives to feed because we make way too much (and vow every year to cut back) for our relatively small family. Then, we'll exchange gifts, play cards or dominoes, take the kids outside to try the new stuff (that will last approximately to New Year's), and talk. And laugh.

And somewhere amidst the way too full, so damned broke, and God, I'm stressed, I will think about how blessed I am. To have food to share and people to talk to and family who loves me and a million children swarming and both my parents living and a sister who's my best friend and a child who's healthy and a house to gather in and just so much!

And I'll realize that the hurried grace I said before dinner is not nearly enough.

4 comments:

Quinn said...

This makes me so hungry! Enjoy yourself and your family.

Zan said...

Ha! I know what hot water cornbread is. But I'm a country girl anyway....and that all sounds soooo familiar ;)

rageyone said...

Elle - Cherish the memories of your grandmother.

The food sounds delicious. We have some of those same things for Christmas dinner also. I've already prepared the meat for the cornbread dressing, we use turkey necks,and baked & crumbled the cornbread. I have finished the okra, green beans, and tea cakes. In the AM, all I have to is assemble the dressing and make the gravy.

BTW, I know what hot water cornbread is also.

Enjoy the holiday and time with your family.

ChasingMoksha said...

That is some list of food!

Not only do I know what hot water cornbread is, I made some last night!

Have fun!

Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...