yuletide bites

December 21st, 2009

No matter where we lived, Mother was renowned amongst local friends and neighbors and the visiting bank execs Dad would bring home as the queen of dinner parties, Hunt Breakfasts, cocktail get-togethers and bread making and each Christmas there was a flurry of baking and delivering of her prized Honey White Bread.

Amongst her greatest fans was my older brother Philip, who couldn’t get enough of that bread, and one winter when he was nine, had a hard time grasping the reality that none of the seven beautiful loaves of bread resting on racks on the kitchen table were not going to be consumed by us, or, more importantly, by him.

We had recently moved into and were remodeling an absurdly large house and for the time being Mother had to make do with a wood-burning stove and oven.  With breads safely resting, she donned her tweed coat and hand-knitted cap and ran across the road to a neighbor’s house on some kind of errand.  In her absence, I wheedled my way over to the bread table for an uninvited and impromptu inspection.

Upon picking up one loaf, I discovered a small bite taken from the underside, and the same from a second loaf, and so on through all seven loaves, each missing one single bite.  The culprit couldn’t be my sister because she was too small to espy anything on top of the table.  And it wasn’t I, for heaven’s sake.  It had to be my brother and I was quick to inform Mother of this bit of news as soon as she returned.

She immediately looked at her young prince, whose eyes had widened into great orbs of acknowledgement and fear, and as her head nodded down towards her chest and she slumped back against the kitchen door, I caught that look of exhaustion exposed on her face for the all-night ahead of her while she re-made the seven loaves of bread in the wood-burning oven.

Mother never punished, criticized or admonished Philip over that bread event and even my stupid young self knew better than to ever mention it.  But there’s beauty in pathos because of the under-stories never mentioned or told.  The love of a mother for her son and the love of a son for any and everything his mother does, especially when it’s baked.

Honey White Bread

Copyright © Katherine Stetson, all rights reserved.