Well friends, the rituals series is beginning to wind down. With five writings, including today’s, left to go, you’ll soon be left to figure out how those not-so-ordinary rituals make the story deeper in your own life. But first, meet today’s writer, Ann. She’s got a generous heart and and encouraging spirit, and I have a feeling you’ll want to head to the kitchen with your mama soon after this one. Enjoy!
Every year, my mother and I spend our days before and after Thanksgiving making Christmas candy together. We’ve been doing it so long that I can’t remember the holiday without the candy; as a young child, we gave the peppermint bark and peanut brittle to my elementary school teachers and choir directors; as a high schooler, I gave the white chocolate pretzels and toffee to my coaches and friends. When I came home over Thanksgiving breaks in college, my mother and I spent our evenings together, making a wonderful mess on the kitchen island, talking together and doing work with our hands that we hardly had to think about. It was the work we did with our hearts that was the most important. We talked about our lives; how they were changing and challenging. We talked about Jesus and how He was shaping us and giving us hope in the midst of those challenges. We shared our lives around that island; it was home, to me.
We have always been close, my mother and I. I am a near carbon copy of my father; she is his best friend. It makes sense that we get along fabulously; I’m grateful for that. And I’m grateful for the years when she provided a way for me to make gifts for friends and teachers when I had little or no money of my own. Now that I’m in my thirties, living what I assume is an adult life, I can afford to give gifts to the loved ones in my life. I don’t need her to buy the supplies; I don’t need her to provide candy for those I give our candy to as presents.
But still, we still do the work of making candy each Thanksgiving, filling my childhood home with the smells of mint and chocolate and butter. I still give the candy away, now to fellow moms from the playground, to church friends, and to our own family.
But what I keep is a sweeter gift. It is the gift of familiarity, of ritual, of the comfort of falling into a beloved and old pattern with my mother. We know how to work around the kitchen with one another, bundling peanuts in chocolate and tipping them in piles on wax paper. We know how many drops of peppermint will make a batch or bark, how many can ruin it. We know this dance. We know each other. Hers is my longest and sweetest friendship, and this is one of the many ways we keep our lives connected, touching, grounded. I’m grateful for that, for her, for this simple way of making not only candy, but of continuing to make a family together.
Ann Swindell is a dynamic writer and teacher who helps others strengthen and sharpen their writing voice, ability, and craft through her course, Writing with Grace at www.writingwithgrace.com. She has been writing professionally for nearly a decade, and her work has been featured in RELEVANT Magazine, Darling Magazine, Today’s Christian Woman, Deeply Rooted, (in)courage, The Influence Network, and multiple other publications. Her first book will release with Tyndale House Publishers in 2017; you can get to know her more at www.annswindell.com, on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. It’s Cara again: man, it really is the little things, isn’t it? Head to the kitchen, stat. But first, leave a comment for our friend, and share how her words touched you.