For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

A Sweet Heritage

Murrel ("Mutt") Rosson, Estelle Kelley, and Ivy Ford
You never left their house hungry,
and there was always coffee, dessert, and time to talk.
 We walked into the kitchen with the linoleum covered floors and tile counter top, and he pulled a chair from the table and sat down.

"Want something to eat? I have roast leftovers," she said as she opened the percolator lid.

"Nope. I'm not hungry."

"Well, I have chocolate cake and apple pie." She scooped coffee into the metal basket, put the metal top back on it, and closed the percolator. I looked at the pie plate covered with plastic and the metal cake cover with the red knob handle.

"I'm not hungry."

"Well, I have cookies I picked up at the store." She set the sugar bowl in front of him.

"I'll have a small piece of pie," he said with a resigned sigh.

She pulled out two saucers, one for him and one for me. I had chocolate cake, and he had the pie he wasn't hungry for with the cup of coffee he never turned down.

That is how visits to my Aunt Ivy often went. The same was true at my Aunt Mutt's house. Her table always had one or two desserts ready for the sharing. At my grandma's house, Dad didn't feel as required to eat food he didn't want or need, but that doesn't mean it wasn't there, and if it wasn't already made, she would make it for you while you waited.

My grandmother and her siblings.
A generation that knew how to get by with little
and share as if they had everything.
But that is how it was with that generation. They didn't have much, but what they had they would share, and you never left their house hungry.

It is how they valued people, how they welcomed you into their home. Anyone was welcome at their table for coffee and a bite to eat.

I loved being in their kitchens, not just to eat, but to cook with them. My Aunt Mutt taught me how to make a basket weave crust on an apple pie. My grandma patiently waited while I made my first merengue with a chicken wire whisk. I thought my arm would fall off, and she kept asking if I needed help, but I was determined I was going to finish it myself, and when I was finished, she told me the peaks were perfect. Forget the thrill of winning a million bucks. I had perfect merengue peaks. My grandma said so, and that was worth everything. I still remember the day my grandmother decided we needed to make Divinity. We both really liked that candy at Christmas, and she was going to learn to make July. I don't remember how it turned out, but I remember her adventurous attitude. If you like it, enjoy it, and if you get it wrong, you can try again. I never learned to fry anything in their kitchens, but good golly, those women could bake, and they made room and let me be part of it.

That is what I saw growing up. Some folks learn that being a lady means you wear certain things or act a certain way. I learned that being a lady meant you worked hard when you needed to, took pride in what you did (even if it was as inglorious as working someone else' yard or cleaning their house), had a dessert ready in case someone drops by to talk, and gave people priority over everything else.

Times have changed, and people don't visit just to visit, so there really isn't a reason to keep desserts on the table, but deep inside me is still the knowledge that feeding people is valuing them. So, I've adapted.

Cupcakes for the Universal Positivity Society
Whenever there is an event that needs food, I take dessert. Our church has a meal with every service, and I have been given the joyous privilege of making the desserts for our group. I make cupcakes for my daughter's Universal Positivity Society cupcake day. I bake all kinds of food and give it away to friends and neighbors at Christmas, and when someone new moves into the neighborhood, I try to take them something yummy. I make desserts for the fire department and sheriff's office. I make pies, cakes, cookies, cobblers, puddings, and other ridiculously sugary things. I always make more than enough because I don't want anyone not getting something because we run out, and I always try to send any extra home with folks so they can have them on their table during the week.

Banana Pudding for our
faith group.
I smile every time I make
dessert for The Table.
I think my grandma and aunts would be proud.
Truthfully, it isn't that I'm some great cook, but I love baking. For some reason this week I've pulled the thread of WHY I love baking so much and why, when I think of doing something kind to show someone welcome or appreciation, it involves food. I've traced it back to the kitchens I sat in as a child, where desserts and coffee were the welcome, and talking took priority. Kitchens where you were welcome to eat or learn to cook, and pie crust stuck to rollers wasn't the end of the world, and Divinity was a treat for any time of year, and it was heavenly what a wire whisk could do to eggs and sugar.

My grandma's generation didn't have a lot of worldly stuff to pass down when they passed on, but these women left me something beautiful. They left me a love of baking and a belief that time in the kitchen can fill a lot more than a person's stomach, and THAT is one very sweet heritage.

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