Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Christmas Tradition

While family traditions are as varied as snowflakes, they all come wrapped in memories. My grandmother's Christmas bread remains a tradition in our family. Although she is no longer with us, some in the family have continued the laborious process of scalding the milk; folding in the currants and candied fruit and seedless raisins and pineapple; then letting dough rise three times followed with more mixing and pouring and greasing-and then waiting and praying the batch in the oven passes the family taste and smell test. The bread had a certain texture. We all know it. Its aroma is unique and remains in the hearts of all fortunate to have called this woman Giddy-a nickname given to her by her first grandchild. It caught on. Everyone who knew her called her Giddy.

The attached picture shows Giddy in one of her house dresses preparing the bread with greased tins ready to go. She knew that recipe by heart. She knew every recipe by heart if there was a recipe. Most times she just went by instinct.

Giddy was our hub; our heart and soul. As we ready to gather once again at Christmas I know she's near. I can smell the pine as if I was back in that farmhouse with her-and taste that Christmas bread coming out of the oven of her woodstove. Traditions most certainly do come wrapped in memories!


  1. My Italian nana was the center of our family. Each Christmas she would begin the preparations days in advance. There was a wonderful sweet roll she made with honey and nuts, and the lasagna was to die for. We ate an antipasto first, not like the ones we see now, but with Italian meats and olives. Then the lasagna was next, so delicious, it would melt in your mouth. The meat course was next, basil chicken, meatballs and homemade sausage. Italian bread was plentiful. The last course was the simple salad with an oil and lemon dressing. We would walk away from the table so stuffed; the men to the living room the women to clean. About two hours later we would have our desserts, all sorts of Italian cookies and pies. I miss those times so much. Sitting around the table, everyone talking at once, a mixture of English and Italian.