The pumpkin bread you baked for me
was gone within a day.
But the love you put into
measuring the sugar,
cracking the eggs,
stirring the pumpkin,
sifting the flour,
greasing the pan,
checking the time,
and wrapping the loaf
will stay with me
for months to come.
© Catherine Flynn, 2014
Baking breads, pies, and cookies for the holidays is a huge part of my family’s holiday tradition. Both of my grandmothers were excellent bakers and each had special holiday recipes we looked forward to. My father’s mother, my nana, baked delicious spritz cookies and decorated them with colored sugar and silver balls. She always had a plate of them ready for us by the kitchen door when we arrived on Christmas day.
My mother’s mother baked pies: apple and pumpkin and mincemeat. We lived next door to her when I was growing up and I was often at her house to watch or, when I was old enough, to lend a hand. This was years before Pillsbury pie crusts, so my grandmother’s crusts were always homemade with Crisco. There was always extra dough and she made delicious little crescent-shaped treats filled with raisins, cinnamon and butter. I don’t remember if she called them anything, but I’ve since seen a similar use of leftover dough called a pinwheel.
After college, I began my own baking traditions, which I’ve added to over the years. Candy cane cookies (sugar cookie dough dyed red and green with food coloring, then twisted into candy cane shapes) is a universal favorite, as are “Kiss” cookies, chocolate cookie dough wrapped around a Hershey’s Kiss, then dusted with confectioners sugar.
Baking is one of my favorite holiday traditions. Some years I’m able to bake with my sister or daughter-in-law; other years, I’m in the kitchen with my favorite Christmas albums for company. But whether I have company or am on my own, I look forward to continuing for years to come. I wish I could share a loaf of pumpkin bread and a cookie or two with all of you!
Wishing you all a joyous holiday!
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