My grandmother is one of the greatest people I know. I don’t say that lightly. But my grandmother is truly worthy of those words. When you see a picture of her, she is almost always laughing and when she laughs, her mouth is almost always open because she is truly and humanly laughing, a closed mouth chuckle wouldn’t do.
She is a terrific example of a woman. Faced with the choice of braces or college, she choose college. She spent time as a stay-at-home mom to her three children (my dad being one of them). She spent time working in social work, looking out for children. She headed up child prevention in NY State, having this career after her children were grown, leaving another great example to me about what my life can be.
She just loves. Seemingly without judgment or fear. To know my grandmother is to be loved by her.
Rewind to this time last year. At this point, my parents manage my grandmother’s affairs, in particular sending out her Christmas gifts, which can be difficult. I was driving to the grocery store, maybe a little hopped up on caffeine (maybe) and it suddenly struck me. What would I want to get from my grandmother? I would love a book of love from her.
I could barely wait to get to Walmart to start sending my dad an email. The idea was, what if we created a cookbook of Grandma’s favorite (or the family’s favorite) recipes and gave that as a Christmas gift to the family. The inspiration for it came from this lovely blog.My dad advised me to layoff the coffee, but then agreed. And he, my grandmother and I created a love letter that she sent to her kids and grandkids for Christmas.
To start, my dad and grandmother went through all of her recipes to select the ones to include. I can only imagine the conversations and memories while they did that, because food can bring back such vivid memories.
My dad scanned nearly a 100 recipes, front and back of many. He dug up old pictures of family meals and gatherings. And sent all these files to me.I used a self-publishing book company called blurb.com and they made it super easy to create the book. I pulled each recipe out to lay it out, but I probably could have just as easily used the scans my dad sent me.
It was a long project to do, but it never felt tedious. It just felt right. It felt amazing to be a part of this gift, this expression of love from my grandmother to all of us. If the memories my dad and grandmother shared were joyful while picking the recipes, they were just as joyful while I was laying them out. So many times I pulled my husband to look at a recipe and tell him my memory of it. Or to show him a picture (particularly of my dad as a goofy kid).It also told a story of a different time, a different generation. Casseroles and lard, so many ingredients!
And on Christmas morning, the reactions were amazing. My cousin posted a picture of her with it, saying best Christmas gift ever. For me, it is truly a treasure. I haven’t found quite the right one, but I’m looking forward to a recipe that I showcase from my Grandma’s book of love.
Someday, when my grandmother joins my grandfather in heaven, she’ll rest assured that she has left all of us knowing how much she loved us. And we’ll be able to pass down her love to our families.
- Budget Friendly DIY Christmas Gifts (oneofficialhotmess.wordpress.com)
- DIY Holiday Bottles (amandaamato.wordpress.com)