Setting a place
at the holiday table for
a bittersweet time of year, isn't it? We are busy preparing for the
holidays, with last-minute shopping for gifts and food for the holiday
meal. We are happy anticipating the joy of getting together with friends
and family. Yet, as with any holiday or special occasion, we usually take
a moment to think back to other celebrations with family members and
become nostalgic or even sad as the memories stop us in our tracks. We may
be shopping in a store when that special holiday song with come over the
loudspeaker. Or, we may be in the kitchen, the day before Christmas,
prepping the dinner for the family get-together.
course, it is not just the holidays that bring to mind the family members
no longer with us, and it is not just the memories that creep in and stir
something in our brain often times so unexpectedly. It is the little
things that maybe we intentionally keep around us, so that our family
remains close to us in some way. We feel them. They comfort us, as I say,
in the little ways.
have a set of Pyrex nested mixing bowls in four primary colors: blue, red,
green and yellow. My daughter, Ellen, gave them to me about 10 years ago
as a birthday gift because she remembered how I had talked about getting a
set, similar to the bowls that my mother had used when I was growing up.
There is something very comforting about cooking in the kitchen with the
equipment I recall in childhood.
don't know why these particular bowls resonate with me. Maybe it is
because they were so frequently used in the kitchen of my childhood that
the image of them has stayed with me all these years. Also, it seems that
each particular size served a specific purpose and still does today as I
reach for them to prepare a meal or set out the ingredients to do some
smallest is a 5¾-inch blue bowl, very handy for scrambling an egg for you
can easily tilt the bowl slightly as you whip the egg with a fork. The
next one is a 7-inch red bowl, just right for preparing a mixture of bread
crumbs, grated cheese and parsley with seasonings, moistened with olive
oil and red wine vinegar to stuff Cubanelle peppers, those long Italian
light green peppers that my mother would prepare. The next to the largest
bowl is an 8½-inch green bowl, very practical for a variety of food
preparations, such as washing salad, draining noodles or creaming butter
and sugar during the baking of cookies. This green bowl size is also
practical to serve salad. The largest bowl is a 10½-inch yellow bowl, a
mammoth size and useful when making cakes and cookies when the recipe
calls for one to do all that sifting of flour and baking powder separate
from the creaming process. This bright yellow bowl is also a colorful
serving piece to place on picnic tables for summer barbecues.
mixing bowls sit out on my kitchen counter, a constant reminder of my
childhood and my mother cooking in the kitchen. Their sizes are handy and
keeping them on the counter keeps them at hand. Of course, I am very
protective of them and ask visitors in the kitchen not to use them.
Instead, I offer a more durable stainless steel bowl that I keep inside
wonder how many objects people keep in their homes that once belonged to
family members and which are so much part of their lives today that they
don't realize the subconscious comfort as they go about their day.
brings to mind the country music song, "I Drive Your Truck,"
which won a CMA Award a few months ago. The lyrics are based on a true
story of the father of Sgt. 1st Class
of Massachusetts, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2006. He was
awarded the Medal of Honor, and his father now drives his 2001 Dodge Ram
1500. During a recent interview, the father said that it was his way of
holding on to something of his son's.
recalls that years ago, when her mother died, she had convinced her father
to sell her mother's car to her. "He had a hard time letting go of
it, even though we live in the same town," but he did, she said.
"I used to feel very close to her when I drove it."
all have our ways.
of one of the children who died in the Newtown
shooting had been in the process of moving to Massachusetts when the
tragedy occurred. After their relocation, they re-created their deceased
daughter's bedroom in their new home, just the way it had been in their Newtown
we all have our ways. In the days ahead, we will look around our homes and
our family table, and be surprised how, in little ways, we bring deceased
family members to the dinner table.
Papazian is a freelance writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
© Copyright 2013 Rita Papazian All rights reserved.