Today I am thankful for the church cookbook from First Congregational United Church of Christ in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
This was happenstance – one of those little moments in life where you set off to do something trivial (in this case, bake pumpkin bars) and end up reliving your own past from decades ago.
We had a fellowship dinner for church on Saturday night and I was signed up to bring dessert. Since it’s Fall, what could be more appropriate than pumpkin bars? So I dug out the best recipe I have, which is from an old church cookbook that was probably published in about 1990, and made the bars.
The next morning, the cookbook was still on the counter and I started thinking about it and remembering some of the great food in its pages. I flipped through looking for a chicken recipe for dinner, and ended up finding one we always loved, a chicken and wild rice casserole. It was one of our favorites when my kids were little. (And I mean seriously little. I think this cookbook is probably older than my son).
One of the interesting things about church cookbooks is that all of the recipes are contributed by members, and they are usually family favorites. Some of them are even named after people from the church, such as Cameron’s Favorite Goulash or Sue’s Homemade Bread. As I flipped through looking at the names of people who had submitted recipes, I was reminded about all of these people that I haven’t seen in probably two decades and yet still remember very fondly. I found myself wondering what ever happened to them, hoping they are happy and healthy, and realizing that some of the older folks are probably either very senior or no longer with us. I was sad (again, 20+ years later) in reading the name of Marion Fish, remembering the day that I sang at her funeral.
It was more than just a trip down memory lane. It was a tour through my own past, and through a happy time when we were surrounded by church family and people who cared about us. You see, for all the rhetoric about what religion is or should be, for me it boils down to that – a sense of community and people who would do anything to help each other.
A friend of mine likes to say to our knitters, “You are my tribe.” She’s right, and I’m lucky to have found more than one tribe, willing to take me in, comfort me when times are bad, and rejoice with me when they’re good.
What more could I ask?