Monday, December 7, 2009

Mementos of Tradition

A short visit with a childhood friend, like snow on Saturday, offers a bracing change of weather.

For years, Betsy baked Christmas cookies, which she secretly delivered to friends' houses in round Christmas tins: stars, trees, bells -- all familiar shapes -- generously sprinkled with nonpareils, baked to a sugary snap better than any other's cookies. Even after we all left homes for other places, she always gifted my father with a tin, squirreled away inside the basement door on his workbench or at the foot of the steps. He loved those cookies.

So when I opened her present last night, it was with surprise. "This is like my father's horse-shoe-nail art," I exclaimed. She said, "It is!" The earrings, little splats of brass, daubs of metal with clips no woman would wear, and the decorative cross welded and buffed in that same basement where cookies waited each Christmas -- both make beautiful gifts. Like her visit and our conversation, they take me back to family connections, a kind of permanency now of mind rather than matter.

What lovely gifts, all the way round.

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