Tuesday, December 16, 2014

being poor at christmas time.

growing up, we were poor. this was before the government made the dignity inducing debit cards they give now. it was the time of monopolymoney-esque paper money, and stamps for milk, more like badges of shame. and you would wear your sunglasses in the store at the checkout lane so no one would know you were a mother trying to do your best but your best was not good enough.



we were poor, but it didn't stop my mother from giving. she was in the kitchen making martha washington bon bons, because that's how you can give. and if she was anything like me this year, and some years past, it doesn't feel like christmas when it's hard. when life is fast and drags you along. it doesn't feel festive when it is difficult to scrounge up change for milk. when there is loss and grief. when the grief you thought was behind you surprises you in the worst way.

but you make the martha's.

i remember my mother in the kitchen rolling the balls for the filling. she was making rum cakes too. i can hear her whipping the glaze with the whisk-- whisk whisking against the glass bowl and her yelling at someone to settle down. i'm 6 or 7 years old sitting at the counter watching the frantic joy of my mother in an apron. she was giving when she had very little. you've heard the parable where the poor woman gives her last couple of pennies and Jesus says, YES! there's the heart of my father. she has given the most. 

these were skinny years for us. there were not many gifts under our tree, but there were always gift baskets for others full of toffee, brittle, martha's, and rum cakes sitting on the counter ready for delivery. perhaps they were a little kiss on the cheek from God, through the hands of a poor woman,  to others who were also experiencing hardship.

of course God uses the rich to help others. but we forget he uses the poor too. 

and so it is in that spirit that i continue through the difficult. i find great joy in the mixing and the dipping and the glazing and the pretty packaging. to some it looks like posed and styled photos, but for me it is the remembering where i have come from. i remember the goodness of being poor in spirit. the goodness of my father in the skinny times and the goodness of a recipe passed down from my mema to my mom and then to me from a worn out, chocolate splattered cookbook page.

this year has dragged me around. it has been too hard and too fast and too much. it has made me tired and grey-haired. and i want to be out of 2014 so bad. but it feels like christmas when penelope sits at the counter and watches me roll and dip and holler at pruett that i'm going to pick him up as soon as i wash the sticky dough and messy of this year off my hands.

21 comments:

  1. 😪😭 this is so good. And, good riddance 2014. Your ass kicking was beneficial, but get the hell outta here.

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  2. I know what you mean-both about the baking and the year.

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  3. I'm actually standing at my counter, wearing a fussy, pooping newborn in a Moby wrap and pulling out the butter to soften. My sister called a minute ago and told me I could skip baking for the neighbors this year, what with the NICU so close in the rear view mirror and a newborn so close to my chest. But I can't. It's how I was raised.

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  4. Oh, thank you for that admit of hard. I feel that, then feel I shouldn't. Like I'm more noble, more holy if I hold up my stole of "it could be worse". Darn right it could, but this right now is kicking me in the head. We were in the ER last night & today I thought, " that's the freaking best thing that could've happened right now, peel off the shoulds & oughtas." Good rid.dance.

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  5. thank you for this post. we are ending one of the most financially draining years in our marriage. i grew up poor and didn't want this for my children but it is my children that are reminding me daily that we are ok. jesus is here all around us taking care of us. bless you.

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  6. My grandma made tins of cookies and fudge for every person she had ever met every year at Christmas. There would be stacks of them going up to her attic. When I was a kid, I thought she liked baking (she did) and I thought she was generous (she was). I didn't think about the weeks of working in the kitchen or the time spent wrapping them up for the postman, the cousins, the people at Bridge Club. Reading this post now I am thinking about her and missing her and remembering how loved, how crazy loved, her little tins made me and other people feel. I miss that.

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    1. gosh, yes. the work. and the shoulders bunched up around your ears and so much love.

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  8. I heart this. I really needed to read these encouraging words today.

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  9. Gosh I love this. We'll, I love most things you write--such honesty. This was definitely my childhood too and my Mama and I are going to be baking for 12hrs this Saturday for all the people in our lives.

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  10. We make candy in my cooking classes this week before classes are out and it is the most rewarding of times when my students say. Mrs. Taylor, this tastes just like my grandma's can I have this recipe?

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  11. I know all of this in my tired bones, too. Merry Christmas anyway. We're almost there, lady.

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    1. some years are just for exhausting yourself for others. there are other restful christmases to be had. but i always sleep better when i have exhausted myself in the best way that day. we'll sleep in heaven. LOL

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