For example: They would make hot rolls using their own secret recipes and we got to be the judges. But the time I will never forget was when Nora O'Bannon the little girl who lived across the street came for a sleep-over and it was the fudge-making contest we woke up to that Saturday morning. We could not decide and well... ate way too much fudge during that deliberation.
My son and I re-activated the challenge today with Bread.
Using my mother's recipe, the twist? on top of the stove in a cast-iron Dutch oven. His challenge? Using metrics, measuring grams precisely on digital scales using YouTube instructions and a recipe found on-line from a London chef.
Of course winning is prestigious, but when you lose, you really win because the winner becomes for example, the "Bread maker" for all times. Which meant with tonight's bread decision, I win by loosing since I get to enjoy fresh loaves of bread the rest of my life, that I don't have to cook myself!
Winning is for keeps in our family. My mother never had to make fudge again either.
Traditions can be re-lived and I hope you will find ways to remember your traditions, whatever they have been, jive them back using the twist that fits for you and your loved ones who may be long gone, or recently lost, but the memories are real again as tastes, odors, and the tinge of competitiveness can bring those loved spirits back, their love of the game back with you. Feel the way we are connected in long forgotten experiences.. in new ways...
Nora towered over me. We were in the same grade, but she was older because of the extended time she had to be in an iron-lung as a child. As my dad would describe bigger girls, like Nora, as "horsey" a term he ungraciously used for a girl who could probably beat up any boy she heard calling her that. She only looked bigger because she was actually older and had a year's head start on me.
But Nora was my friend and all these years later keeps crystal clear memories of the times she spent across the street at our house, of a family that could laugh, eat meals together and stay in the same room without all hell breaking out for the most part of course.
It was because of Nora I learned to cook. I wanted to learn because Nora could cook. I still have the little skillet my mother gave me to learn how to fry my very first egg. It is the one with the burnt wooden handle.
Nora had to cook. Her mother made her grow up quick. She prepared meals before her mother got home from work. She had to learn, and I got to. Learning only later that cooking wasn't always the privilege I took it to be since my experience in our kitchen was the joy it could sometimes bring.
Nora grew up in a broken home with a single mom and was a for-real latchkey kid, the only one I knew. But Nora also was the only kid I knew who had had polio. The summer my family moved to Big Spring, Texas kids lined up at Central Ward elementary school to get the polio vaccine and were glad to get it since no one wanted to be stricken by that disease spreading rampantly just as our COVID19 is now for us.
Polio (short for poliomyelitis) a serious, contagious disease caused by the poliovirus which attacks nerve cells in the spinal cord, and could leave muscles permanently weak or damaged. About one in every 100 people infected with that virus became paralyzed (unable to move). Nobody wanted the child-crippling disease since most remembered it had even crippled President FDR as an adult.
Doctors and researchers had learned an infected person could spread the poliovirus right before and about one to two weeks after they have symptoms. Ninety percent who got polio didn't have any symptoms but could still pass that virus to infect others. People where dying to get their children in that line to get vaccinated and urgency was the factor just as we have such an urgent need in the US and the world to stop the spread of this generation's virus that will put many in the updated iron-lungs. Our sickest patients will need ventilators to be able to breathe like those in my childhood depended on those iron beasts to push weak lungs for them until they were able to breathe on their own.
In the height of the epidemic that year an outrageous 3145 deaths occurred, and people got in lines and got vaccinated and because we mobilized our country we eliminated polio, but we still vaccinate our children because we know it could come back. As it did for Nora who is suffering with post-polio syndrome as an adult.
AND now we have that many deaths EVERY DAY. Will we stand for this? No. We will stand in lines soon. We will want to live. We will want to know who will win that bread-making contest in our very own kitchens, we will want to know who will be the fudge winner and who gets to enjoy the winnings for keeps.
Respectfully submitted ~ Rebecca Jim