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I feel like I am passing on good memories to my girl who is too young to realize the time together we have now is not always going to be there. We made 18 dozen gingerbread men together today and now my hair smells like Christmas and warm happiness, and it’s following me around in dear wafts everywhere I go. In the car the gingerbread esters cannot escape and float to the backseat where she tells me she smells what we did today.

When I think back to the happy times with my own mother I know I didn’t have the space in my heart to feel the joy of the moment because I was so guarded against the pain of our relationship. Mothers matter so much that even when you don’t have the best relationship you still care how it goes. I didn’t know enough then to take it all in in a healthier way. I was too young to understand that my mother’s harsh ways were more about her than about me. I didn’t know that because she was impatient and unavailable it didn’t necessarily mean anything about me. Baking was an escape from the difficulties of our time together, probably for her too, because it was about making something wonderful and happy together.

We did a lot of baking, me, my mother and my sisters. Alone in a farmhouse on a huge piece of land far from the rest of the world we baked flour, sugar, butter and eggs into myriad delicious incarnations that left happy memories that last still. We don’t have each other any more, none of the four of us, but we had it then, and it was good, and smelled of warmth and holidays and a joy I guess I knew was out there somewhere.