Scenes of girlhood days marched before me this week in a new way as Cousin Judith and I emptied the kitchen cabinets of what used to be her home in her girlhood days.
As a little girl I loved going to Judith’s house (her parents are my Uncle Paul and Aunt Leah). Aunt Leah’s cheery “come in!” would ring down the short flight of steps leading down to the entry door. Inside there were traces of a family in full motion, their children were a blessing, not a burden.
When it was me who stepped in their home I too, felt loved and welcomed.
When I was 7-years-old I was enthralled with their endeavors of starting up a little store on the little gravel road they lived on. Over the years they expanded from bulk food items and a deli to salvage groceries. At age 13, my parents granted my dream of allowing me to go help them at the store a few days a week. For the next seven years I worked there off and on until Daniel and I got married.
Though I never met their oldest daughter, I missed her a lot. She was stillborn the same year I was born. Judith, who was a couple years younger than myself helped fill that empty spot.
There was always something to do at her house, we knew which dresser drawer contained all the board games, on some occasions, when more of the cousins were there, we’d play school or go fishing in their backyard pond. If it was Sunday afternoon the hand crank popcorn popper was taken from the cupboard and fresh popcorn could soon be smelled all over the house. Uncle Paul was a chef at heart and an imagination to go with it. Grilling was his specialty.
Thinking back, I can only imagine the mess us children made as we carried our bowls of popcorn all over the house and took our games downstairs. Still we felt like an important part of each event.
When it was time to go home my mother would always say, “Children time to pick up the toys then go home!”
We groaned, “How could it possibly be that time already?”
Seemingly years slipped by, more quietly than I knew. It’s 25 years later. Judith and I both have a family our own. Now I understand why the toys needed to be put back and why we had to go home before we were ready to do so. I am no longer a child, still those memories go with me. I think of the thousands who have not had that opportunity of growing up in a community where love and friends abounded. Then I think of my teen years where fears and insecurity marred much of my freedom. Where, why? Today I still don’t understand all those reasons; perhaps to get a glimpse of what many others have waded. Or maybe God simply wanted to show that he can take those mangled situations and heal.
Now as Judith and I emptied the last drawers and packed the contents into boxes, we reminisced over those days. It felt like I could just take a step back and be right there again with her family, but then reality is, things change, and you know, that’s okay.
Her parents had moved from their house a couple years ago, but it still felt like home. This time we were packing up Cousin Eli’s belongings in preparation of our new neighbors and friends who plan to move from Michigan next week.
I’ll be adding a recipe for you to try with dinner rolls or bread. Both dinner rolls and bread were a specialty at Paul’s country store where they made hundreds of batches over the years.
1 (8 oz) cream cheese
1 stick softened butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon instant clear jel
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cam raspberry jam or jelly*
Beat together cream cheese and butter.
Mix powdered sugar with instant clear jel.
Combine cream cheese mixture with powdered sugar mixture.
Last add vanilla and jam or jelly.
Spread on your favorite dinner rolls or bread and enjoy every lick!
Gloria Yoder is an Amish mom, writer, and homemaker in rural Illinois. The Yoders travel primarily by horse-drawn buggy and live next to the settlement’s one-room school-house. Readers can write to Gloria at 10510 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427.