Friday, October 1, 2010

cinnamon rolls: a legacy of love

I just whipped up a batch of cinnamon roll dough with the kids. As I gave them each a pinch of dough to enjoy, I remembered my Great Grandma. She died when I was quite young--I am not even actually sure when--so, I don't have very many memories of her.

The only memories I have involve her cinnamon rolls (or "sweet rolls", as she called them). She was famous for them, and I specifically remember her making them for us whenever she visited from Minnesota. She always let us kids eat some dough and often gave us scraps to play with.

It seemed like an interminable wait until the dough had risen and the rolls had cooked, icing had been whipped up and they were finally ready to eat.

But they were always well worth the wait.

I wish Grandma Anderson were here to guide me as I make these cinnamon rolls, to give me pointers, and to see that I am passing along her tradition to my kids. She probably thought nothing of baking for us, her great grandchildren, but it has stuck with me and made an imprint, and I want her to know that.

For a while now, I have been wishing I could do more, make more of an impact on the world. I see other women who do such amazing things, all while also raising children, and I wonder why I can't do more. Why can't I handle getting a job or volunteering more? And I guess I just want to feel like my contribution to the world is significant.

I wish I could do some great big thing that affects my community, start some amazing movement to galvanize people for change. I wish I could do something big to help.

The longer I think about it, however, the more I realize that right now in my life, I can only handle small acts of service: taking a meal to someone sick, delivering Meals on Wheels once a month, typing up the PTO newsletter, babysitting for a friend. Though I long to do more, like teach some classes at the community college or be a literacy volunteer, I feel that my family would suffer if I took on a major commitment at this point in my life.

As I ponder the cinnamon rolls that are rising right now, I realize that it is often the small, seemingly insignificant moments and actions that influence a person. It doesn't always take grand gestures or large sacrifices to make an imprint on a person. Most of the things I remember about my family members are not big trips or expensive presents, but the small kindnesses.

Like Great Grandma and her sweet rolls.

Recently, my Aunt S. celebrated her 70th birthday and in her honor, I picked people's brains and came up with 70 reasons we love her. In the process, we remembered so many small moments that meant a lot to us, like the many sleepovers she hosted and the fun crafts with recycled Christmas cards she helped us make. I still have some of those ornaments that I hang on my Christmas tree every year.

The thing is, Aunt S. was surprised at all the great memories we had with her. She told my mom that it was nice to learn that she had made a difference in our lives. I can't believe she wouldn't know what an influence she was, but, in a way, I understand. She didn't work outside the home, she didn't spearhead some great big movement for social change. Yet, she did change the lives of those around her, and she continues to do so, typically by small and simple daily kindnesses.

And, you know, I think the same can be said for all of us.


Denise said...

yes, all of us...ESPECIALLY YOU!

Susan said...

I didn't get to meet Grandma Anderson, but I always get to hear the stories, which I love.
I wish I could type up some big long thing about what Grandma S means to me, but my eyes are crowded in tears.

Heather said...

I love when I am doing something and it will stir a memory of a loved one. Most people don't ever realize that they made a huge impact on those around them.
I really liked this post, it made me instantly think of my great grandmother. Thanks!

burley said...

Aunt S said....I really like...scratch that...LOVE your post. I am sincerely flattered by your comments...especially since they weren't directed to me. (Granddaughter S.S.L. Fwd your link) I really appreciate you, Patty.

Ginny Marie said...

I just had to come leave a comment, because my grandma always made cinnamon rolls, too, and she also called them sweet rolls! She never let us play with the dough, though.

Sometimes I feel the same way you do. I want to do so much but feel so useless. It's good to remember the small kindnesses are important, too. thanks!

Anonymous said...

I can almost smell the cinnamon rolls now! What an amazing thing to pass on to your children. You are a truly amazing person to do all that you do! I often look around me and feel that I have it easy compared to stay at home moms. I get away from my kids for 40+ hours a week. Then I feel bad because I'm away from MY kids and with other people's children for 40+ hours a week. We never think we do enough. Trust me... We all do!

Sprite's Keeper said...

What a great memory! And to think you'll be doing that with your own grandkids one day.. :-)

Jenni said...

I talk about this with my friends a lot - the way life ebbs and flows. Right now, you need to be home with your family, but ten years from now, who knows? You may be the kick ass mom with a job and volunteer commitments amazing all of her friends.

Anonymous said...

First of all, I could eat that picture it looks so delicious.
Secondly, that was so eloquently said as usual. By writing what you do, you've made a huge impact on me and many others. Keep it going.

Schmutzie said...

This weblog is being featured on Five Star Friday!

Katrinka said...

So true, it's the small things. Then again, some of the acts that seemed small (that my grandmother did) when I was a child, now that I am a mother seem very large. We lived on a farm and she lived in town, and most days she made a hot lunch for us AND cleaned up after it while we just toddled off back to school. For YEARS. We just took this for granted. Now I think -- wow, she went a long way out of her way for us Every Day, and it was no small task she set for herself. I wonder, as I muggle through the days, how she could have made the choice to do all that extra cooking and those extra dishes, as she did. I would be screaming and pulling my hair out.

I love your idea about collecting 70 reasons and am going to borrow it to do something nice for my sister's 50th birthday. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Those look so yuumy. Making me hungry!

danette said...

very true, it's the simple, everyday things that make a difference. well said :)

Sarah said...

Great post Patty. And I would bet your kids will remember when their mom made those cinnamon rolls for the first time and the impact they made.

Mrsbear said...

You do so much, Patty, and that you want to do more is a testament to your charitable spirit.

For me, staying home all these years, I get infected with a certain restlessness, like I need to do something big, accomplish something, influence something, but there is so much to be said for caring for a family and giving of your time and yourself to those around you.

And there might be plenty of time yet for those "big" contributions, right?

ShesAlwaysWrite said...

I loved this post! I lost my Grandma and Great Grams within the last 2 years, and my fondest memories are of family gatherings in their tiny kitchens. When Grandma passed away, my aunt got that I was family culinary historian and passed Grandma's book of recipes to me. I still can't open it without crying : )