To the uninitiated, the scene would have looked strange. I presented first one and then another daughter with a gift for the upcoming holidays, causing their eyes to light up with joy. The gift came in a plastic container rather than a velvet lined jewelry box. It was ‘one size fits all,’ clearly not a new dress or sweater.
Here is what it looked like before its presentation:
As you see, the pieces were rather plain looking, and truthfully, they will not win any cooking awards, even when they emerge from the oven, crispy and brown. Neither my family nor I can actually tell you how tasty they objectively are, though we eat them with relish. The enjoyment is completely entwined with our emotional history. These mandlen mean Rosh HaShana is coming and evoke memories of generations of women baking and celebrating the holiday.
I inherited the recipe I use and a bite transports me to my grandmother’s teensy Brooklyn kitchen, where love was an ingredient in every morsel. When my mother-in-law shared her favorite recipes with me, the same recipe was in that treasure trove as well. So, rather than tackle some of the myriad chores on my to-do list, this past Friday I took time to make this labor intensive food, dividing the finished product into packages for each of my children.
My younger grandchildren did not understand the sparkle in their mother’s eyes. I pray for years of peace and health so that they will have time to absorb this small element of family history, prepared to take their place in transmitting it forward.