Gardener Santa

So here I am, once again writing my Holidalies post at 11:50 pm. This is NOT the habit I wanted, this year.

But this time I have a good excuse: I was at a meeting at church, part of the core group of people planning a new evening service to begin in February.

One of the things we talked about was how we wanted to handle communion, and the suggestion was made that actually breaking a loaf of bread, passing it and the wine from hand to hand, ministering to each other, might be a really lovely way to make that ritual more intimate.

It got me thinking, on the way home, about the other times I’ve shared bread with people. My friend Marcia is an amazing baker, and I have fond memories of a marathon session making hot cross buns in my kitchen several years ago.

My aunt Patricia is a baker as well, and it is her cornbread recipe that I follow, and have been following, for more than twenty years.

And then there’s my grandfather. He was a career Army officer, retired and worked in the civil service, retired from that and played gentleman farmer in his New Jersey back yard. He grew grapes and strawberries, composted everything, and baked the most amazing loaves.

I remember his thick fingers pushing through the warm, sticky dough as he kneaded it. I remember the crock of sourdough starter that had a special spot on the back of the dishwasher. I remember the way he would lovingly grease each pan and then dust it with cornmeal, and I remember the steaming bread, fresh from the oven, slathered with butter.

My own baking is aided by modern tools – a bread machine, a stand mixer – and, to be honest, I generally prefer to make batter breads, like the cinnamon swirl bread I baked yesterday, or the prune-laced soda bread I made for a friend on Friday.

We break bread literally and figuratively whenever we share our tables with our friends and families. Isn’t it only right that we should bake it, as well?

Today’s Santa: Gardener Santa is actually a candle I found at Big Lots (no, really) several years ago. He reminds me of my grandfather, though Grandpop didn’t have a full beard, ever, and he’ll never be lit.