by Tim Re of The Voice of REason
Some of the best things in life are traditions. There are so many memories I have from growing up that are steeped in tradition, so anyone who knows me personally and is familiar with my affinity for food, knows that this story hits very close to home:
The other night my son, MJ, aged 13, asked me for a recipe. It was for his favorite dessert that I generally reserve for special occasions. It’s a twist on a Southern favorite, Banana Pudding. This is NOT from a box, nor does is it resemble, in any way, the fluffy stuff found on most every South Carolina buffet from Greenville to Charleston. It’s an old-fashioned egg-custard layered with homemade whipped cream.
We had just celebrated my younger son’s birthday last Saturday where this creamy concoction made a star appearance, disappearing long before the cake, so I couldn’t figure out why he wanted it again so quickly. He was there, manning the constant whisking over the double-boiler and constructing each layer, carefully abiding by my instruction.
As it turned out, he wanted to make it by himself to take to school one day this week. When I sent him the recipe, I jokingly added, “this was likely the one thing you keep me around for” as I reluctantly passed it on.
I watch all my boys grow up so quickly and I see them outgrow the need for things that used to be must-haves: Reindeer Teddy, a blanket named “B” that was carried around for so long it eventually was placed in a ziplock bag to protect the few remaining strings that were left, and a set of left-handed Sponge Bob golf clubs that were used on a first golf outing are just a few that come to mind. I immediately thought, “now he’s outgrown the need for me to make this for him.”
He called me last night and told me all about it–how he got it just right and he couldn’t wait to see how people liked it. I realized that he sounded just like me. It may seem a bit goofy to get excited over a dessert, but there’s more to it than that. Growing up as I did, food was love. I didn’t hear “I love you” from the family matriarch very often, but she expressed her feelings for all of us with food. Making a big deal of it and going the extra mile to make sure that everything was just right was my Grandmother’s way of conveying love and her desire for us to gather.
I realized that that’s exactly what drives my passion for food. I love cooking for my family and friends, whether it’s a standing rib roast for Christmas dinner, or cheeseburgers on the grill, food brings us together. That was exactly what Matthew was doing. He told me recently that he has been bringing something into school whenever a classmate has a birthday. It’s his gift to them. As I think about how he gives of himself to make others happy, he’s really displaying the heart of a servant:
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-5).
Every parent wants to see their children mature into good people who care about others. Seeing my son do just that while continuing a tradition which was passed down to me, was an early Christmas present. I’ll keep that memory forever, but I will re-gift this one as often as I can.
Photo credit: clipartof.com