In search of story

December 11.22: Coping, but barely


Those of you who have kindly read along for a few years know that for Christmas I put together scrapbooks for my sons about some aspect of family history. That these scrapbooks hand down to them a history according to me is totally obvious — and satisfying.

This brilliant idea of mine has its flaws, however: it makes an infernal mess.

And it forces a reckoning. One cannot dig through boxes of family flotsam without some creeping sense of clairvoyance in one’s forebears.

Case in point: my mother carefully noted in my baby book that on 30 May 1943 I first stuck my foot in my mouth. How did she know?


15 thoughts on “December 11.22: Coping, but barely

  1. Very interesting project. Do you pick a certain event or period of time? The header photo made me smile because it reminds of an old old cookie press my mother and grandmother had. I can see it now – round and silver with interchangeable patterns and a black handle I would twist to push the cookie out. Then, of course, was the cleaning of all those pieces with the cookie dough stuck in every corner and crevice. Sure tasted good though. 🙂

    • Yes, that’s it exactly! The round cookie press with the thing you turn! I inherited that press and years ago gashed myself on it. Which shows how I can make anything into a hazard. I have a different one now. The cookies are sure good and, like yours, they come with a lot of memories. As for the scrapbooks, I’ve done one all about my grandma’s house, another about World War ll in my family, one about my Grandpa Mauck…it sounds ridiculous that one could make an entire scrapbook about one person or one house, but there is always a lot, especially since I come from a scrapbooking family. There are photos and documents aplenty to draw from. I do a fair amount of personal comment in these, needless to say, but that’s what family history is about, yes?

  2. Ah Maureen, like Judy, the photo of the Spritz cookies brings back many memories. My mother started baking Christmas cookies before Thanksgiving. They were stored in huge tins. She baked on average 4,000 cookies every year. Most of them given as gifts.

    I took over the “tradition”, but I only managed to bake an average of 3,500 every year! Now my oldest daughter and granddaughter are carrying on the tradition! And I get to eat them! Doesn’t get better than that.

    Several years ago I put together four albums for each of my two daughters. It took me one year of gathering, sorting, deciding how to divide between them, and methodically recording the names of everyone in each picture, the date and where it was taken. Needless to say, I didn’t have all that information for every picture. It was a labor of love and has turned out to be a gift that keeps on giving. Those albums are thumbed through a lot!

    Kudos to you for doing this for your sons. Best gift they could receive and one they will cherish. Best of all, those albums will be one of their fondest memories of you!

    • Four thousand cookies!! And you baked a MERE 3500??? I gasp. But then I think of what my mom baked and for all I know she baked in the thousands too. Nobody counted — we just ate. Well, at a certain point we ate. Mom started early too, and we snitched at our peril. She filled Jay’s potato chip tins that were the size of fire hydrants, I swear! They were stored in the back closet, and I think she dusted for fingerprints to be sure no one ate before it was officially time.

      I can so empathize with the scope of your work that year pulling so much together! That was a huge project, and an extremely important one. That whole thing about identifying who is in photos is time-consuming and seems unnecessary to the people in the photos, but fifty years later everyone will be grateful for the ID’s. Congratulations on the finished work!

      Christmas cookies always have memories as the main ingredient, yes?

    • What a slacker you are, Ginger! Only 3500….geez! 😆 My memory of Christmas cookies is my mother baking Russian Teacakes aka Mexican Wedding Cakes. Hers were melt in your mouth perfect. After I moved here to sunny Florida, I tried my hand at making them. The tricky part was when, upon removing them from the oven, you are supposed to shake them in a paper bag of 10X sugar. Well, I shook and wound up with a bag of crumbs. Darn right I ate every last one of those damn crumbs!

      • A true cookiephile eats the crumbs! I know those cookies and I would never expect them to survive a bag-shake. Your mother must have had a magic touch.

        It was a good thing I had swallowed my coffee before I read your first line. Yes, it won’t do for Ginger to get lazy.

      • Hahaha! I would’ve eaten every crumb too, including every speck of sugar !

  3. That’s an impressive project, Maureen. I’m not sure I’d know where, with what or how to begin. I’m lucky in the sense that our daughter is an only child. I fear she’s unlucky in that she may be left to sort stuff out without a guide. She will have memories of making Christmas cookies (and of her father sticking his foot in his mouth).

    • It’s a gift, isn’t it? Both the foot and the cookies. I can speak to your daughter’s status as ONLY. I was the only daughter, only granddaughter, and only niece. I got EVERYTHING, and that’s how I ended up with bins and boxes of photos, letters, scrapbooks, receipts, etc. It’s a fabulous collection but it left me with quite a moral obligation. My Aunt Jean told me that if I didn’t continue her work on family history, she’d come back to haunt me. No idle threat, that. I think Faith will be up to the challenge!

  4. Your family history idea is brilliant. Bravo! It was the first observed sticking of foot in mouth. It was fun when we could do that. Sadly I can’t remember when it last occurred to me to try. (Other than just then, but I swiftly rejected the idea.) Of course, I’m talking about the physical rather than the metaphorical: the latter seems to continue at all ages. Or for some of us, at least – you’ve made me think of the foot-in-mouth-stickers who are oblivious of their sticking.

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