Now that 2013 has come to a close and I’ve finished basking in the post-holiday sugar glow, I have been doing some reflecting on the year just past. Last year was a very special year for me; it was my first full year of being in business for myself (a long-held dream) and following my creative path, nothing fell off the house (which is always good), and I was given some of my dad’s donuts for Xmas.
It may seem weird that donuts made my list of important milestones for the year, especially since I am not a donut person (or maybe I am a donut snob), so let me explain. Growing up my dad and his brother owned a bakery that their father, my grandfather, had started many years ago out of his house. By the time I was old enough to eat my weight in donuts the bakery had grown to a couple of locations and was very well-known. I grew up surrounded by home-made breads, incredible donuts and frosting roses. If you are aware of my fascination with cakes it will all start to make sense now.
Eventually my dad and uncle decided to pursue other interests and closed down the bakery, but every year at Christmas my dad would spend a whole day making the Redmond family bakery donuts and delivering them to family, friends, customers who had become friends and anyone who just couldn’t live without them.
These aren’t your standard donuts…they are more substantial, they don’t coat your mouth with grease, they are a perfect combination of science and intuition and are best eaten with concord grape jelly—on a spoon. As a teenager the holidays started when I smelled the donuts and would run down the stairs to watch my father create magic with practiced hands and puffs of white flour that seemed to coat everything…and then I literally proceeded to eat my weight in donuts: tv donuts, plain donuts and crullers…
Both of my parents died when I was in my 20s, at separate times, but the net effect is that holidays bring out the nostalgic part of me…and it has been years since I have had a Redmond donut. Sure, my uncle gave me the recipe. However about the time he warned me that the frying oil could suddenly burst into flames I shelved the dream of keeping the donut making tradition alive; because stuff spontaneously bursting into flame is NOT OK WITH ME…
Anyway the long and the short of it is that I went to visit my Uncle this holiday season and he had made Redmond donuts…not en mass like my dad did at the holidays; he made several dozen and saved some for me.
Now I may be a sap but these were by far the most valuable thing I received this year…and I have guarded them like a lunatic. My husband, who has been regaled with stories about them for years, had to put up with my protective insanity about not touching them until we had time to enjoy them properly (this mostly involved me flailing around with a large wooden spoon) and I had acquired concord grape jelly. That took 2 days…mostly I think I just liked looking at them and reminiscing (and good grape jelly takes a while to find).
On New Year’s Eve we were down to our last 3 donuts, and I made sure they were gone before the clock struck midnight…and that is how it should be. I’ve greatly enjoyed this sentimental trip down memory lane but it’s not something I should drag into the new year with me (also eating donuts constantly would make the perpetual “getting fit” resolution particularly cumbersome).
I think we all have the triggers—something from out past that defines a holiday and brings dusty memories into the present…I have donuts. My husband has a nougat pudding confection that his mom sends him from Australia every year (I have included a picture so you can be as dumbfounded by this confection as I am-it is the size of a clenched fist and is solid nougat). What is your “thing”? Share your’s in the comments below. I can’t wait to read your stories!!!
I hope everyone had a memorable and meaningful holiday season!