I am lucky enough to still have both of my grandmothers living. I adore each of them. I have sweet, random memories of them from my childhood, like Grandmom Baker's (maternal) pretty diamond rings, and her swimming pool, and trips to the White Mountains to her cabin in Pinetop where I would watch playful chipmunks dart in and out of the woodpile, and I would spin around and around in the wooden cocoon chair that hung from the ceiling, with a white sheep's (?) wool rug under my little girl toes. How funny that so many years later, I ended up living just a few miles from that location.
When I got married the first time, I moved to Arizona from New Jersey and lived near my Grandmom Baker. In an effort to get to know her better, I would go to her house every Wednesday after working at the bank, just to sit and talk with her. I was pregnant with my first baby at that time. I loved spending that time with her, and getting to know her. I especially loved seeing the traits of my own mother in her. It made me feel connected. I get crafting, and sewing, and my aesthetic tastes from her. My pioneer heritage comes from her Ellsworth family. She is beautiful, and she has the same eyes as my mother has, which make me feel at home.
My Grandmom Van Sciver (paternal) was a bigger part of my childhood because she lives in NJ, where I grew up. Every Easter meant an Easter egg hunt in her backyard, where we scouted for plastic eggs filled with jellybeans and coins. Every Christmas Eve, (and many other Sundays) was dinner. She was in the same ward as I was, and she was my Sunday School teacher for a time. Grandmom had a store, Gloria's Confection Connection, where she sold her homemade pies and cakes and her hand-dipped chocolates. Be still my soul. As a child, I went through those chocolates and poked my finger in the bottom, looking for the caramels. Her chocolate-covered pretzels are still one of my favorite treats in this world. We had candy-making tutorials and pie crust lessons with her as a youth group at Church. She catered my first wedding, and as a gift to me, she flew out to UT and catered my second.
Grandmom Van Sciver is FOOD. She is known far and wide for her cooking. Whenever she comes to visit me, my kitchen becomes hers. She will spend most of the day in the kitchen preparing one meal, and then another, and it never matters how many she must feed. All are welcome. (I think I heard that she fed 75 for Christmas this year.) It is her gift. Not just her talent, but her gift to give. It is how she loves, and I have learned so much from watching her give it. One of my most treasured recipe collections, is the one I have from her. All of her specialties, mostly Italian, tons of desserts, all of the dishes that evoke such powerful emotions of my childhood at her house. I inherited part of her gift, I think, because I love to love others by cooking for them. I love to feed people, to nourish them.
From time to time, I pull out my binder of Grandmom's recipes and just cook something that reminds me of her. I do make the best red sauce, but of course, she's the one who taught me, so maybe I make the second-best red sauce. Every time I make it, I feel like my Grandmother's granddaughter.
Last week at Church I saw a woman carrying her baby, with a toddler and preschooler at her heels. She walked over to her husband, and as I caught the scene, I had this tremendous love for them sweep through me, which was odd, since they are not a family that we generally do social things with. But, I suddenly wanted to feed them! I asked Adam if he thought we should invite them over for dinner that night, and he was, as always, agreeable, and ran out to the parking lot to offer the invitation. Which they heartily accepted.
I got home from Church at 2:15pm, and got to work. I got out Grandmom's recipes and decided it had to be lasagna. Had to be. And a spinach salad, and crusty garlic bread.
And for dessert, her banana cake with cream cheese frosting (because I had loads of rotting bananas, leftover cream cheese frosting from Dylan's party, and not a lot of time.) It was all appreciated, and gobbled up.
It was fun to have someone come to dinner. It was fun to spend the afternoon cooking and baking, and it was fun to set a beautiful table, and make someone else happy. It was fun to do for someone else what Grandmom has always done. All are welcome at her table. She'll cook for one and all.
But someone else is doing the dishes. Amen to that.