So, remember the pies I told you about last week? Let’s start there.
My mom baked a great pie. Her crust was perfect and I cherish the memories of getting to form a little bitty jam-filled treat when she was preparing the real thing. For years, I had tried to honor her recipe and her technique – i.e., touch the crust as little as possible as the oil from your hands can make the pie tough; roll it out once, then fold in half – but after many years of so-so pies, I decided that I didn’t have the crust gene and the red box of readymade became my new best friend. I even stopped baking pies since our relative Roger does such a great job using his own mother’s crust recipe.
Then I ran across an interesting recipe that uses vodka, not to mention about twice the fat of my mom’s masterpiece. (Not only does this make good piecrust, but also there’s the added benefit of tossing off a bit of the brew to make sure it hasn’t gone bad.) Now, here was a crust! Rich, tender, and just the right amount of sweet to support the fillings. (You could easily omit the sugar for a savory pie.) I’ve officially started baking pies again. However, the fact that I have to let go of my mother’s tradition to do so, nags at me – not a lot, but it’s there – lurking. Rationally, I know that today, we probably expect more fat (ironic, since we know more about its health complications) in our desserts and adding sugar to the crust completes the whole decadence thing. Or maybe the air in our house has more or less humidity than that of my parents’ house. Or maybe,…whatever. The point is, that the new recipe is better…for now.
Then, there’s my mom’s wedding dress. And another generation joins the party.
I wore this dress for our wedding – it’s satin, with a fairytale train, a laced neckline that can be worn off the shoulders or on, and long sleeves that taper onto the hand with tiny covered buttons. It even has a bustle, if you need it although, I’m pretty sure the bustle was unnecessary for moi. My parents got married on December 29, during a snowstorm and had an evening reception. My mother looked totally elegant in that dress. We got married on September 11 (yes, that’s right), on a humid day, and had an afternoon reception in a ski lodge. Think of this as you read on.
So, our Emily is getting married and we unwrapped my mom’s dress that hasn’t been seen in 30 years. After cutting through tape around the box that says, “Your Wedding Gown” with a drawing of a demure bride underneath, and many layers of blue treated paper, the dress emerged, the arms, the bodice, stuffed with paper to hold its shape. The first thought I had was that it looked like a dead body. With Emily and Annie looking on, it was immediately clear to me that not only was this not the dress for Emily, but it may not have been the dress for me either.
My daughters were treading lightly. Emily said something about it being too warm for a September wedding (her wedding month as well) and asked if I had been hot. I didn’t remember that, but the pit stains said it all. It took a full minute to get all of the dress out of the box – that train is long!! One of the beautiful, dainty buttons fell off. And, dutifully, Emily tried it on and I think we were all a bit relieved when it was much too big for her tiny frame. Later, the girls admitted that their first impression of the dress was that of Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. It was clear that, not only was Emily not going to wear it, but I had lost Annie’s interest as well. And at first, I felt as if I had to stand up for the dress – that it was my duty to make sure it got passed safely to the next generation, that someone understood the glory of the dress, that I had to defend my mother’s impeccable sense of style – but after a while, I realized that, no, if none of the younger generation cousins want it, I can put it in a museum or something. Besides, I’m proud of all of my children for knowing who they are and knowing when something I’m trying to sell them is all wrong for them and not being afraid to tell me so.
Would my mom be upset that her piecrust, her dress have been put aside? No. I’m sure she wouldn’t. So, for today, at this point in the journey, the piecrust is too slim. The wedding dress is too rich. And the world goes round and round.
Pulling into our driveway the other night on garbage night, Bill pointed out how our recycling container was overflowing while the garbage can had almost nothing in it. We were smug and satisfied at our environmental efforts.
But, while recycling is usually a good idea, sometimes a piecrust, a wedding gown, need to step aside in order for the rest of life to go through.