My further ponderings are once again about the kitchen as ministry. For hundreds of years, the knowledge that women were in the kitchen preparing delicious meals and treats during Advent brought smiles on the faces of family and friends. (In some homes, it was Dad or Grandfather who did the baking.) It has only been in the most recent generations that cooking "from scratch" has become a lost art in many homes.
I used to apologize about giving baked goods as presents until I realized people anticipated them each year. I have written about my own favorite childhood gift as my family would look forward to the homemade candy Bonnie's mother-in-law made each year. I've long forgotten most gifts received but I can close my eyes and almost taste that candy.
We may not reach the crowds like Billy Graham or minister to the poorest of the poor as Mother Theresa . However, there is something about the aromas coming from the kitchen that instantly bring comfort to others. We minister to our own family and friends when we offer delicious food, our best offerings of the Season.
There is a reason we love to look through magazines this time of year. So often the pictures are of beautifully set tables, or platters of decorated cookies and cakes, or scenes of loving family and happy friends enjoying food and drink. Perhaps not always reality... but images of what we would like our Holidays to look like.
This is the time of year to put on the apron and look through the spattered index cards for our favorite recipes, those which Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, or Christmas would not be complete if they were not on the table. How important it is to have traditions, those things "we always do" because we are "insert family name".
We all have certain menus or recipes which remind us of a grandparent, parent, friend, and other family members. It is not too soon to make the phone call or e-mail to ask (beg?) favorite traditional recipes from those who have prepared them for us year after year.
While this post is not a what... as in what items to stock up on in the pantry... I hope you will see the why. As you collect the butter, and sugar, and flour, and vanilla... or put together the breakfast casserole the night before... as you baste the turkey and stir the gravy... you are doing something much more important than "just cooking". You are creating fragrant and delicious memories for the years to come.
In a former neighborhood, one of the Dads made a pecan pie each year for friends. It has been nearly nine years since we lived at that address but my family talks about those pies every Christmas.
By placing the candy in a pretty container and cookies on a decorative plate, with a card reminding the receiver this gift is given with love, you are not only baking but offering a remembrance of Holidays past. You... the cook and baker... will not always understand the uniqueness of your gift... but most of your recipients are grateful for that which is homemade.
Never underestimate the delightful gifts of baked goods, home canned jars filled with fruit jams and jellies or pickles and salsa from summer's garden. Perhaps placed in a pretty basket with a favorite book or little New Testament to share the One whose Birthday we celebrate. He who is more than a memory. :)