I shouldn’t keep it, but I can’t throw it away. Dad cleaned out another cupboard and asked me if I wanted any of Mom’s cookbooks. I have a cupboard stuffed with cookbooks already. But I had to look. I had no problem turning away from the nice, new looking books. But then I saw it. The tattered, falling apart Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. And I was helpless to turn my back on it.
The book was copyrighted in 1953. Mom probably started out with it as a young bride. And the cookbook was part of my whole childhood. The red and white gingham checks with the silhouettes of black pans on the cover shout home and comfort to me.
I leaf through the pages, many of them loose now because the holes have torn. I look for some notations in Mom’s handwriting, and am disappointed to find none. The clues I have to the recipes she actually used are limited to food spatters and memories. She definitely used the pumpkin pie recipe…I can almost smell it now. And the cookie page is spattered, too. I can picture peanut butter ones coming out of the oven now.
I can’t look at the cookbook without a vision of Mom young and strong again. And I see our whole family sitting around the table eating her delicious cooking. I see my baby brother in the high chair between Mom and Dad. I feel the love and security of childhood wrap around me.
I shouldn’t keep it. In fact, I already have the identical cookbook that I inherited from my grandma. It’s worn and sun-bleached and has some notes in it that Grandma wrote. But it’s full of Grandma memories and gives me flashbacks to Grandma’s house.
The one I brought home today is Mom’s. And full of Mom memories. I shouldn’t keep it, but I can’t part with it.
Maybe someday I’ll have grandchildren. And I’ll let them stand on chairs around the counter while we bake cookies together. And I’ll use Mom’s cookbook, and I’ll tell them all about their great-grandma and how I used to make cookies with her looking at this same cookbook and this same recipe.
And we’ll roll peanut butter cookie balls and smash them with forks. And we’ll eat the warm, soft, sugary cookies with cold glasses of milk. And we’ll make special new memories that build on past ones. And Mom will be part of them.
I shouldn’t keep it. But I won’t give it up.