I am overjoyed to be home early this year. This is my first Christmas while in school that I can remember ever being home before the 21st. I have been home since the 14th, with my last assignment turned in on the night of the 16th. I have spent the past week reading, watching good movies, wrapping gifts, spending time with mom, doing laundry, stocking stuffer shopping and attempting to make post-Christmas plans with friends.
Last night, I began my contribution to the Christmas meal: dessert.
Stirring the chocolate pudding for the chocolate pudding pie, I am nostalgic for Grandma. Chocolate pudding pie was one of her signatures. I’ve made it a few times to bring places myself, and I always think of her. Although, unlike me, she always remembered to bring whipped cream to go with it wherever she brought it. This is our first Christmas without her. I dreamt of her last night, but she was already gone in the dream. But it felt like she was there and maybe that was good enough.
Today, I’m baking my first Italian bread– or at least trying to. I’m making the dough in the bread machine since my arm is still messed up (not sure what it is– will be visiting doctor next week). There were some funny noises happening, but the dough looked good and it seems to be rising alright.
I remember the priest visiting my Grandma last January, to give her communion and visit. He was the priest from my grandparents parish. He had done Deda’s funeral and we had liked him. He came and had tea and prayed with us that day in January. Naturally, we talked about food. Grandma and Deda always loved talking about food, and that didn’t change for Grandma after Deda passed away. We found out that the priest (I do not remember his name) liked to cook and he baked bread.
I had first found an interesting Italian Bread recipe last summer. I’d intended to make it and bring a loaf to Grandma and Deda. I always loved bringing them things I’d made– or grew. But last summer quickly gave way to Fall and so many changes we are still wrapping our heads around them. This year, I will eat Italian bread and think of my awesome grandparents. And how much they inspire me– especially with my cooking. My food allergies always make me feel a little disconnected from my culture (and others!). But being able to cook things myself and experience them makes me feel connected. This Christmas, as Grandma and Deda celebrate Jesus’ birthday with Him in Heaven, and we celebrate on earth, I’ll remember that, just like always, we’re celebrating the same holiday. And they’re closer to me than ever, in my heart, and as close as the next piece of chocolate pudding pie– or bread and butter.