Homemade with love and butter

I had a little cry this morning. I was using a mixing spoon my mother gave me a few years ago to make scrambled eggs. It’s got a wooden handle and a blue rubber bowl that says “Homemade with love and butter”.  At the time she gave it to me, I could only ask, “What was she thinking?”  It felt like a sort of token “that’ll do” choice, and I figured she must have been light on imagination, drunk or high on something when she bought it as it seemed so out of character.

Thinking about it, that’s not strictly true — she was occasionally seduced by a frill or two, took the occasional little step away from the righteous path of good taste into the barbarism of floral, even frilly. I don’t recall her succumbing to motto-infested items before, but I guess there’s always a first time. 

Mostly, though, she was a flag bearer for understatement and conventional good taste. Hyperbole wasn’t something she suffered from, and superlatives weren’t in her standard lexicon. You had to dig deep to understand that describing something as “good” meant she absolutely loved it. That could be frustrating on occasion until you remembered her generation’s stiff-upper-lip approach to life.

Now, I look at the spoon and see a cherished memento given with love, if not butter. Actually, I also see a very good mixing spoon, which I use all the time, even though I snobbily dislike stuff with naff mottos. I nearly threw it away because it was far from what I would have bought myself. I’m so glad I didn’t. 

I look around my apartment and see other gifts received over the years imbued with memories and love. I associated them more with my mother than my father because she bought them. Unfair, I know, but them’s the breaks. Staring tearily into space, remembering my mother this morning, I thought again how lucky I am to have had parents who always gave generously and with love, even when times were hard for them, which they were for many years. 

My mother died a few months ago, and I miss her profoundly every day. I miss her particularly, knowing Christmas is just around the corner and, for the first time, she won’t be there. But I feel her with me when I use my naff spoon, and its naffness makes me smile … when it’s not making me cry. 

Mum loved Christmas. She spent her last one in hospital. We did our best to bring the season to her with mini lights, some decorations and presents … of course. This year, our little family will be dispersed for the first time in years, but some good friends and a much-loved niece will be joining this orphan for dinner, and the season will be jolly, reflective, happy and sad. As it should be. I will raise a glass to my beloved mother, knowing she will be there in spirit and enjoying the moment wherever she is.

As Christina Rosetti said in her 1885 poem, set by many composers to music as a carol over the years, “Love came down at Christmas.” I know it will come down again this year.