I’m always moved by stories of people who put things aside for children. Not long ago, I heard a story on NPR about a mom who had written letters to her daughter at fairly regular intervals through her childhood. The mom died when the daughter was about 11, and the dad presented the letters to the girl when she graduated college. I was weeping in the car.
I haven’t done anything like that, and I’ve been trying, long before I heard the Public Radio story, to figure out a way to honor the spirit of the idea without stealing someone else’s technique. I think I’ve come up with something that will be meaningful to my children not only because of what it is in the “big picture” sense, but also because of what it’s actually comprised of.
I love to cook. I sometimes joke that there are only three things that I’m reliably good at – I am a true and loyal friend, I am a fantastic mother, and I kick ass in the kitchen. My idea of the heirloom keepsake for my girls incorporates all three of these things, I think.
My plan is to ask people who are important to my daughters – aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins, family friends and family-related-by-love – to write their favorite recipes. I want the recipes in the handwriting of the people submitting them – that part is important – and I will scan them and have them made into cookbooks for the girls. I love getting recipes from people who love me; the connection I’m able to make not only to the process of cooking, but also to the end product, seems to always leave me feeling warm and well-loved. My hope is that these books will not only offer the girls a good foundation of culinary knowledge, but will connect them to those who love them in a very real and tangible way.
I’m not sure when I’ll give the books to them – I suppose a lot will depend on when I actually finish collecting recipes – but I’m thinking they will be given to mark a momentous event; a graduation, a first apartment, a wedding, something like that. I began the process this afternoon by asking my grandmother, who’s currently undergoing chemotherapy, to write out some of her favorite recipes. I got a lot of my kitchen standards from her, and I want to keep that connection strong in my daughters.