today is my personal christmas. today is a triumph and blessing. today i took the day off to make my mother's stollen recipe. and it worked. it worked!! this is a yeast bread i have made alongside my mother and last year, alone, i failed in my attempt. but not this year.
this year, i altered the recipe (how daring, considering my very green culinary skills). i eliminated the candied cherries (that dye must be toxic) and substituted dried ones instead. i only made 1/2 the recipe (who has room for 6 loaves in the freezer??) i added more spices. generously. and i will forgo the white frosting on top. melted butter and sprinkles of cinnamon and sugar are what this rustic triumph calls for.
my home smells amazing while they cool. even if the insides aren't as well done as i imagine, they are perfectly perfect for me. finally my mother is here again.
It was an apron that helped me define it. Red, with snowmen clustered on the front, hung from a hook in the hall closet. It was my mother's. She wore it 2 Decembers ago as we baked for the holiday in her kitchen. It was our last time baking together.
This December I rescued the limp apron from its hook and took it home. It was a recent grey day when I put it on. It was then I realized it was my grandmother's apron because it carried the faint scent of her house. My mother had worn her mother's apron for the 2 Christmases she spent without her. (They died less than 2 years apart.) Now, I wear it, infused with the energy and glad enthusiasm of the 2 women who made my holidays magical.
On a recent grey day in a red apron, standing at my own kitchen sink I could define another undertow in the slow process of grief. I am missing and mourning the loss of the deep feminine spirit in my life. That spirit was held and richly shared by 2 German immigrants who insisted on linen tablecloths, full-course exceptional meals and candles on Christmas trees. They held standards and shared them freely through their feminine wiles not only at Christmas, but all through the year. Without them there is so much less heart and warmth. So much less magic.
It is mine now to bring forth that heart, apron-clad and candles burning. Not just for December, but for every moment of every year I feel capable of bringing my essence and ideas to the fore. The red apron made clear to me the troubles of the earth itself, of this life we all live. We, as a collective, are missing the benefits and safety of the deep feminine spirit. Where ever the feminine strengths are lost or shut out, grief, and even insanity, ensues.
Women of all ages, but particularly women of the age of knowing, mid-life and beyond, bring forth your spirit. Bring forth your warmth and compassion and enveloping ways. Share openly your wiles and ideas that usher us back to safety and love and all that we crave at our core. Be the deep feminine spirit. In aprons, in overalls, in business suits, in glitter. However you evoke magic and meaning in this life, bring it.