Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too, that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs Cratchit since their marriage. ~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, 1843
Mama’s Christmas breakfast is regarded as one of the most beloved traditions of the year, even outstripping the Thanksgiving Feast. Sausage and bacon egg casseroles, oyster stew, French Toast and Cinnamon rolls, grits and hash rounds, fried apples, ambrosia, sparkling cider and orange juice. She plans the preparations down to the second, begins her grocery shopping in November, and slices and dices and sets the early prep aside in the freezer for weeks before the appointed time.
On Christmas mornings we arrive, nearly twenty of us, to a house packed to the brim with gifts and redolent with spicy, cinnamon goodness floating from the kitchen. Mama’s pink-cheeked face is wreathed in steam and her Mrs. Cratchit-soft brown eyes twinkle at us proudly.
This year as December jingled on the doorstep, Mama, who is strong and resilient, said quietly over the phone, “All that measuring.”
And I knew what she meant. She refers to a day in August that came like a fireball as “the Day I Lost My Mind”; it was the day of her first stroke. Sometimes she stands in her well-worn kitchen, birthplace of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of well-executed feasts and wonders where the pots and pans are.
On the twenty-fifth day of this past December, we gathered again for her Christmas Breakfast. There are empty spaces. Time has passed. Death has come. There are missing faces. Decisions were made. Lives took other routes. But Mama’s Christmas Breakfast is spread on the tables, her legacy unfolding, the grace given to her passed on to us.
Defy the moment when you want to say, I quit.
Stay on the path. Honor family; guard the gift of one another.
Keep doing the hard thing . . .even after it has become the impossible thing.
Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?
So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We . . . have only done our duty.' ~ Luke 17: 9- 10