The Christmas Miracle

Just as with any family loss, this holiday season was just missing those we love. This was the first year that I can remember that none of our family got together to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas. We tried a couple of times to do it at other places but, it just wasn’t the same. Walking into mamaw’s house was always a sweet experience. Each person made a particular food item and it was always a thrill to see those things. For Thanksgiving mamaw always made the turkey and dressing, no matter how we begged to do it for her. She also made her family’s famous coconut pie. For Christmas, there was always a big pot of mamaw’s homemade chili sitting on the stove and warmed ham on the table.

Her coconut pie was handed down from her mother, Amanda Bradley. She wasn’t too shy about it and would often make several of them for other family members that would ask for one. After years of begging mamaw to share the recipe of her chili, she finally gave in and gave it to me. One year for Christmas after she had made it she handed me 3 can wrappers and a notepad paper of the recipe. I was extremely excited! I came home and immediately added it to my electronic recipes on my then iPad. A year or two later and that iPad decided to freeze and trash all of my info that wasn’t saved. I lost all of my recipes due to the app I was using being retired. I explained to mamaw what had happened and she told me that she would give it to me again. Well, since she only made it once a year, both I and her would forget until she had already thrown all of the cans away. I’d lost it and now mamaw was gone too.

This year we didn’t get together as we’ve done in the past. Christmas Eve was just an empty day. A day of thinking back about what used to be. Santa didn’t show up and scare us like he used to do. We didn’t roast because the heater was set to 87°. There was no chili or cheeseball. No laughter from picking on each other and catching up with each other. It was just a depressing day.

Christmas day began like any other with Val’s family and then mine. We got together at mine as usual and we tried to do what we were used to at mamaws. It just wasn’t the same even though we tried. We had our meal which was great, the staples that she always had, but it was still missing that mamaw touch. I was also kicking myself because of the chili recipe. After eating with my family we began to open gifts. There was no Santa to show up to scare us all, just a game we played. After the fun, Hope brought me a gift she had created, a shadow box. It contained 3 photos of mamaw, one from 1945, 1990, and one from the ’80s. It also contains dried flowers from her funeral, a necklace with her initials engraved on a charm, and a recipe for the orange fluff she often made. Hope explained that she wanted to put the chili recipe in it but since we didn’t have it, she had to make do. The shadow box was small, simple, creative, and simply beautiful – just like mamaw.

The next day we woke and began working on Lego kits Coy had received. Emotionally drained and tired from the days before, we worked on the floor of our living room. Val had also received some gifts to which she wanted to display on her nightstand. While rearranging and cleaning the nightstand she came across a journal book that she had received several years earlier when we all went on a journey of growth and humbleness during Kate’s cancer. Just as anyone would do, she opened the journal to read some from what she had written. She read a few pages and stumbled across something she had for some reason, stuck in the journal. While Coy and I were in the living room we began to hear yelling and screaming in great excitement from Val. We had no idea what was going on at all while she began walking down the hallway to us. She then explained what she was doing and why. She then holds up 3 folded wrappers and a notepad that was handwritten. IT WAS THE CHILI RECIPE!!! The only explanation we could think of, of how it could have gotten in there was at one time the journal sat on the bakers’ rack in the kitchen where all our other recipes sat. Somehow, someway those wrappers with the recipe ended up in the journal.

I then scanned that recipe, printed a copy and I knew what I had to do, replace the fluff with the chili in that shadowbox. That night we were going to go back and eat leftovers with mom & dad. I had to create a plan and I knew that I somehow had to get Hope there as well. How in the world was this going to happen as I knew she would be busy with her own family. I sat and thought of a plan and nothing came to mind, just crickets chirping. I then text mom and asked her what they were doing for supper and thought we would come over and eat leftovers if they had some. She then explained that she did and we were more than welcome to come. Plus, Hope and her family were also coming up to do the same! Problem solved!! So before we ate, I hid the shadowbox and told Val to tell her story. At the right moment, I brought out the changed shadowbox containing mamaws chili recipe. Mom was so excited as well as Hope as they were both crying.

Even though as the old saying goes, “a day late and a dollar short”, we all enjoyed this small object and event that took place. This was truly our little Christmas Miracle.

Comments are closed.