Today a Twitter friend mentioned mince pies, and all at once a million memories rushed to mind.
My Nana made mince pies for holiday meals, and they were a special treat. I haven't had mince pies often since then. I think I found some when I studied in Scotland. Both of my Nana's parents had emigrated from Scotland to Canada, so I found other familiar dishes when I studied at the University of Aberdeen as well.
Shepherd's pie, that was a tasty one. Fluffy mashed potatoes floating on some beef and veggies.
Shortbread cookies were another specialty. We have her shortbread recipe, and my dad and brother have made some shortbread a few times.
Ham and raisin sauce, that was an Easter treat. Sweet and tasty.
Apple pie and a slice of cheddar. My Papa would always say that apple pie without cheese is like a hug without a squeeze.
I remember Thanksgiving or Christmas day, with the Turkey coming out of the oven. My Nana ran a tight kitchen. She raised five boys after all. Meddle in the kitchen, and she could crack a towel so fast in the air, you knew not to mess around.
Nana always had a cookie or two in the pantry when we came to visit. Wafer cookie sticks were always a special treat. I liked the pink ones.
Those holiday meals, those were a real treasure. Around 20 family members spread across a few different tables. At Christmas, we had crackers: gift-wrapped tubes with a little firecracker inside. You'd hold one end, the person next to you would hold another, you'd both pull, and then crack! It pops open, and inside you find a colored paper tissue crown, a fun little toy and a terrible joke to share with everybody at the table.
We'd have turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, corn casserole, a marshmallow fruit jello salad, rolls, and we'd finish the meal with pie. Often after a break. Apple pie (with cheese), pumpkin pie (with whipped cream), and mince pie now and then.
We still see family, still see our cousins, but rarely all together with those holiday gatherings. Each of the cousins opening a few presents. Brothers sharing nut mixes or cookie trays. Papa sharing bad puns. Nana smiling, with her quick wit, and warm hugs.
I miss my Nana who passed away several years ago now, and who had Alzheimer's for several years before that. I know how keenly my dad misses his mom.
I'm very glad my daughter gets to grow up seeing her Nana and Papa, my mom and dad, regularly, since they live only 25 minutes or so away. She gets to see my sister and brother and their spouses, her aunts and uncles, pretty regularly. When I mentioned how meaningful a tweet about mince pie was, I got a good reply that we should try making it. I'd like to find a good recipe for that, and try making that with my daughter for Thanksgiving.
I can't wave a wand and make those memories a present moment that I can savor, but I can help make new memories that will hopefully be just as meaningful years down the road.