I remember the back door of Grandma’s house swinging open. I can still hear the spring stretching, squeaking and pulling the door shut with a solid thunk. I can see the porcelain kitchen sink, the linoleum floor and the baker’s cabinet where she stored all that she needed to make noodles or cookies…I can still see it all.
In my mind, I can return to the times when I sat under the arbor, picking Concord grapes that hung from above. I remember chewing on the tough skins and spitting them out on the grass, and Grandma was in the yard maybe pulling weeds from among the day lilies along the side of the house or clipping some baby’s breath to add to a bouquet. She would point out to me the pansies planted in a shady spot near the porch, and sometimes she would pick one of the purple-and-yellow blooms, press it between pages of an old book, and use it to decorate a handmade card or bookmark months later, after it was flat and dry.
When we arrived, she pulled out her sugar cookies. Instead of rolling them out and cutting them into shapes, she would drop them onto the cookie sheet and sprinkle some colored sugar on top or stick a gumdrop in the middle, or a piece of pecan. She stored them in a green pan, a vintage roasting pan. As soon as we arrived, my brother and I wanted some “Grandma cookies.” I hunted for the ones with gumdrops or sprinkles.
Not long ago, my mom pulled out the green pan and offered it to my sister-in-law or me. My sister-in-law was delighted—it matched her kitchen in both color and style. Then something shifted. I was happy to let her have it, but maybe my eyes said something else. Honestly, my brother ate as many sugar cookies plucked from that pan as I did. He deserved it as much as anyone.
But my sister-in-law said I should have it. She wanted me to have it, she said, and though I knew it would look perfect in her kitchen, and though I knew my brother would cherish it, I accepted the pan.
Even though it doesn’t match my kitchen, the pan sits on top of my refrigerator. I see it every day, many times a day, and I store small treats in it, like Hershey’s Kisses or leftover Valentine’s candies.
After reading Nancy’s post about her own grandmother’s cookie jar, I couldn’t get the green pan out of my head.
Grandma’s cookie jar always sat atop the refrigerator in the old farmhouse kitchen, and I remember looking up at it as a child and imagining it contained the same kinds of cookies that decorated it, ones cut in heart and flower shapes and decorated in sugary pink and green icing…At the time, it never occurred to me that having cookies on hand for the grandchildren was a luxury my hardworking farming grandparents could barely afford….Years later when I was cleaning things out of my mother’s house and came across the cookie jar, I knew I wanted to have it, to hold onto it.
I know the feeling. I want to hold onto the wooden door that thunked shut, and the pansies, and the grape arbor, and the baker’s cabinet, and the green pan and the sugar cookies with the gumdrops stuck in the center.
Grandma passed away in 1987, and the house is gone now. The wooden door, the pansies, and the arbor—all gone.
But I do have the recipe for Grandma’s sugar cookies.
And the green pan in which to store them.
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