March 12, 2010

EDITORIALUnseen guests bring food to Christmas dinner

— Recently, a new friend asked me, ''How many people will join you for Christmas dinner? After a brief pause, I responded, ''Just the family. We seldom have guests at these occasions.''

''But from your comments about Thanksgiving, I thought you would be having a large crowd.''

''What made you think that?'' I asked.

She quoted my Thanksgiving menu almost verbatim. She spoke about Josephine's sweet potatoes being very good this year, as were Nana Alice's creamed onions.

Ruth's seven-day pickles and Catherine's homemade beet relish brought flavor as well as color to the table.

I finally caught on when she asked if she could talk with Judy about her biscuits. I haven't talked with Judy in years, but she baked the best biscuits I have ever had.

Now I bake them, too, even though they still bear the name of ''Judy's biscuits.''

The magic is in my recipe box. Each year, I pull from an old metal lunch box recipes that have been enjoyed by my family. The season between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the time I renew old friendships from the recipes that have become easy to make and serve as a part of the tradition for our holiday meals.

From cooked dishes to baked items, the recipe box gives me magical moments. Like a sorcerer, I bring old friends back to relive memories.

The box is a bridge from the past to the future. Most of the recipes are from bygone friends, to be remembered by me and my family for their special contributions to our lives.

These recipes have been joined by those of new friends. Our daughter incorporates some of them in the holiday meals she plans; our son and his family bring another dimension to our lives, Judaic tradition along with the marvelous flavors of its food.

As I read each recipe and make decision about when to serve them, I plan a party.

The guest list changes with the event: Josephine at Thanksgiving and Christmas, Ruth at Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July. My and my husband's mothers are at every occasion.

At the table, we recall when various foods joined our family. We talk about the ''way back when,'' and about the new recipes given us by children and grandchildren. We are comforted and united by the conversation.

My husband's pie crust has and will always comfort family gatherings. My penchant for baking cookies arises each Christmas with signs of flour dust throughout the house. He will be remembered for his ''killer pies,'' I for a sweet but messy kitchen.

My recipe box has garnered new respect. I am reminded how something as simple as a recipe can bring comfort, memories and laughter to a family.

Oh, yes! They bring love as well.

— Special to the Telegram

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