Over the Christmas season that has now passed, “Grandma’s cooking” was the topic of discussion during conversations held via phone and in person with friends.
Mostly during those discussions, I was silent because I had/have no memories of ever eating a Christmas dinner prepared by my late Grandmother on my Mother’s side of the family. My Dad’s mother had passed away many years before I was born so again there’s no memories available from that side of the family.
All the Christmas stories talked about good times in the kitchen with Grandma — baking her famous cookies and helping her to get ready for a large family gathering in the old farm house or home in the city.
Discussions among friends talked about Grandma’s favourite recipes and the secret ingredient she finally revealed that made her Christmas fruit cake taste better than any other cake.
I had no such memories to share.
Of course my Grandmother must have cooked and baked but she and my Grandfather lived hundreds of miles away for most of my early childhood and only once did we venture to Northern Saskatchewan to visit them. I recall my Mother loading up boxes of baking to take with us, baking she shared with her parents and with her brother’s family living close by. We have family pictures of me with all my cousins and the grandparents, but none in the house in the kitchen.]
When they returned to our area, they lived in a house south of our community and we visited often and there must have been meals but none I remember. Store-bought cookies, however, were always offered and that was a special treat not available at home.
At their upstairs apartment on High Street in Moose Jaw we joined them for lunches: sandwiches, cookies and chocolate milk for me, but if the stove was turned on, I don’t recall. I do remember the candies Grandpa always had available for his grandchildren and great grandchildren.
After Housemate and I married, we were regular visitors to ensure Grandma was looked after. She was a guest at our house where she wondered why the bathroom was upstairs but she gamely made the trek up and down.
On one occasion that I do recall, she invited us to share some pumpkin pie she had purchased at the corner store across from her apartment. We arrived in time to enjoy the pie and some chocolate milk. She asked me to help her take the pie out of the package and it was then we realized the pie had to be baked. She laughed at herself for not reading the package directions more carefully.
We put it in the oven and had a nice visit while it baked and cooled. I watched her whip the cream with a hand rotary beater and then finally we enjoyed the pie, baked in her own oven.
She laughed often when we told the story and teased her about making us work for our lunch.
But wait a minute: I do indeed have a memory to share about helping Grandma bake a pie and when the occasion arises, I will happily share that moment with others when our Grandmothers’ cooking is the discussed.
Joyce Walter can be reached at email@example.com
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.