Bright and early, to the river, and sun, and very little, but just enough sleep. I text my sister, she calls me back: I begin to feel the press of to-do’s of the holidays, and even the fun things feel like a kind of pressure. Will we meet at my house this weekend with the daughters and mothers to make my mother’s recipe for cheese puffs for the family holiday party, will we keep the tradition? I say yes. Then I say no. My sister says, it’s okay not to and it’s okay to decide at the last minute. So, I say no. I finish my walk before Charlie and Suzi are ready to return home. I try on the feeling of no pressure for cheese puffs; a break from tradition. But this is a special way, for us as daughters, and for the granddaughters, that we keep my mother’s presence in the holiday. It’s a way of imagining her witness of us busy and silly and skillfully mastering the steps in the kitchen: cutting and melting, shredding and dipping, whipping and freezing the puffs for the party. We say her name. We tell the stories of when she made them and when she could no longer, and especially that last year she tried, with the help of a young granddaughter, when they made them, but we couldn’t eat them. At the party, without plate after plate of my mother’s hot cheese puffs to be passed?
I texted my sister, then my daughters and nieces, my sister-in-law: Come. Bring the ingredients.The party is on.