Childhood Christmas Wish

Sweet Belgian waffles and powdered sugar decorated my plate this morning at Verbena’s Cafe. And, while “Seasons Greetings” was artfully proclaimed by the red and green place mat, no holiday message could compare to the delightful childhood memories conjured up by warm waffles and syrup – not even the ridiculously strong coffee poured often by the smiling wait staff.

Thick, fresh square-shaped waffles with brown, crispy edges smothered in homemade strawberry butter, chopped pecans, and hot strawberry reduction . . . dusted with a cloud of confectionary sugar . . . eaten around the dining room table full of laughter, three sisters, and in-love parents . . . I dream about those days, the love, the life, the simplicity of homemade food and homespun family . . .

When I saw Belgian waffles on the menu of the French-inspired cafe this early morning, I knew that Christmas Eve was the perfect time to indulge the taste of a childhood dream, the comfort of a childhood memory. Even surrounded by David’s incredible family, I miss what used to be my family. Heartache, several years of struggle, and some broken relationships currently mar my Texas homecomings. Healing is coming to my precious family and friends, but just for a few nostalgic moments this morning I allowed my heart to meander back to the rambunctious meals and crazy days of growing-up. The impromptu dance sessions in the kitchen. The picnics on the trampoline. The Pride and Prejudice marathons.

As a freshman in college, I soon realized that very few things stay the same. My first Thanksgiving at home brought that truth into stark reality, as my old room boasted new paint and new theme, my parents had bought cable TV for the first time, and my sisters were gorgeous young women wearing make-up. Girlhood went out the window with the advent of multiple cell phones, driver’s licenses, and jobs. We are all adult women now, making our own ways in the world. I love them all dearly and am truly glad things “didn’t stay the same.” However, waffles . . . ahhh, waffles . . . powder-sugar dusted waffles taste like girlhood, innocence, indulgence, holiday, family breakfasts, Christmas music, springtime strawberries. Perfect for Christmas Eve. Perfect for remembering. Perfect for missing my lovely trio of sisters.

I’ve asked for a waffle maker for Christmas. Dismissing the health concerns of the carb-loaded treats, I want to pour sweet batter into hot griddles just like my Mama did it. I want to sink my fork in the melty goodness of syrupy fruit and crunchy nuts. I want to bake more breakfast traditions with David and with children that I know will one day fill our home. Dance in the kitchen. Watch movie marathons (maybe not Pride and Prejudice). Picnic on our tiny front porch. Eat homemade waffles.

What traditions remind you of family past, family present, family to come? What foods bring on waves of nostalgia? Leave me a response or two and maybe some ideas for traditions David and I should consider integrating into our own.

Until later, Merry Christmas Eve. May we be filled with all the goodness of our born Savior, our broken King, our coming Bridegroom. May our homes be marked by the distinct sense of expectation – and Christmas sweetness – of this Advent season. Sing Gloria. Emmanuel is here with us today.

Blessings on your Christmas Eve!

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