Memories and Recipes: The Best Wedding Gift

9.21.2012

The makings of my big and colorful family will always be a great story. It's one that has been crafted over many years and many storms and many triumphs. But really, I need you to know about my mom.

My mom had me when she was nineteen. I think so fondly of that, because it's always felt as if we've grown up together. My mom and dad married (and divorced) twice. Consistently throughout, it's been my mom and me. Before either of us had a relationship with Jesus, I think we'd been everything to each other. More so her to me, because I find it hard to describe how much I value her opinion and wisdom. She was my authority, my conscience, and my friend. She is bold, fiercely loyal, and values truth. 

The week leading up to the wedding, we were all scattered about running errands and trying to make it all happen. My parents' house is about 45 minutes from civilization, and I was heading out there on a Thursday evening. My mom said she had something for me. Bryan already knew what it was.

I stood in the dining room and waited while she ran into her room excitedly.

I had no idea what I would be presented with, but I was REALLY hoping it was a kitten. (Side note: Why don't more people give kittens as wedding gifts?)

She came out with a big bag (not a kitten), and another familiar box I'd not seen in a long time.

She'd written me a letter, describing the day I was born. How she had waited for me for months. How she would go into my nursery before I arrived and just look at my tiny clothes. She listed the smells of the hospital. What the room looked like. She told me how when she met me I took her breath away and she believed without a shadow of a doubt that God was very real, and He was good. I re-read each sentence. I wanted to read it forever, because her words were everything to me.

On the table, she set down my memory box.




Camille, Carynn, and I each have one, and my mom has been putting in treasures, keepsakes, and tokens from our lives for all the years we've been alive so far. I have always loved digging in to her closet and marveling at all of the things in the box that I was too small to remember. 

There was a little envelope with a lock of hair from my first haircut (in which my hair was almost blonde). Photos. Notes that I wrote to her in my little girl handwriting.

A tiny dinosaur sculpture I made her (the red and yellow glob you see below). A pillow I made for the tooth fairy with a tiny pocket to make our trade easier and more secure. My baby saltwaters. And the shirt I wore when I was fresh out of the oven and still in the hospital nursery.



All of this happened, and the gift bag sat undisturbed.

I sat at our dining room table with my mom beside me, Bryan on the other, and Douwe across from me.

I pulled out the tissue paper and found a different box at the bottom of the bag.

It smelled new, and when I opened it, I gasped.



My mom made me a recipe box.

But it wasn't just a recipe box.

It was filled with antique index cards that she'd printed into recipe cards...

... that she and my Nana had mailed out to every single guest that was invited to our wedding.

She asked each guest to share their favorite recipe, and on the back - to share well wishes, encouragement, a memory, or marriage advice. 

My eyes filled with tears. The box was full. It was a perfect secret.

Our friends from out of town that couldn't make it got to be with us in a great way. The guests we'd see in a few days left their mark in a way that was more meaningful than a guest book entry.

My friend Claire in Ireland sent her recipe for Baked Alaska.

People wrote funny things. Insightful things. Memories of what the recipe meant to them from their own childhood, or when they were newlyweds.

Things like,

"Don't ever not have birthday sex. Ever."

and,

"Always remember you're on the same team, and never stop doing the fun things that brought you together in the first place."

There's so much goodness in the little box. My mom's hope was that when I made the recipe, I could think of and pray for the person that wrote it.

I was so overwhelmed by how thoughtful it was. I felt so loved by how many people responded. I fell in love with my mom a thousand times more than I already was, and was equally excited for the life I was about to start with Bryan.

I loved that my mom and Nana did it together - my mom told me how much she loved making it and spending time with her own mom in the process.

It was absolutely perfect.

Sweet, and perfect. 

That's why she's my Marmee.




“My child, the troubles and temptations of your life are beginning, and may be many; but you can overcome and outlive them all if you learn to feel the strength and tenderness of your Heavenly Father as you do that of your earthly one. The more you love and trust Him, the nearer you will feel to Him, and the less you will depend on human power and wisdom. His love and care never tire or change, can never be taken from you, but may become the source of lifelong peace, happiness, and strength. Believe this heartily, and go to God with all your little cares, and hopes, and sins, and sorrows, as freely and confidingly as you come to your mother.”  
- Marmee, Little Women

30 comments:

  1. o man, what a beautiful gift...i had to hold back tears...they were welling up!

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    1. I made myself cry. Not because I am awesome but because I was thinking of her giving it to me all over again! Moms are so good!

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  2. I still owe you mine. I'm sorry Princess. To be honest, I was so sick when it came in I just couldn't wrap my head around which recipe to choose for you. If you have a Dita favorite (mini quiches?) cause we know Cam's fave is spinach balls. What an amazing gift from your mom. She is a wonderful and thoughtful mother. She raised two incredible women. Love you, Deets

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    1. Deets, I don't think I could choose a favorite. The first two that came to my mind was the crab dip, and EMPANADAS. Do you think I could handle it?

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  3. Wow. This is amazing. I teared up reading your account of the gifts and all the wonderful things that your mother wrote you. You are such a lucky girl to have so much love in your life. Congrats on your future with your hubby and treasure that box forever (I know you will).

    xo Teresa
    www.delightfullydarling.com

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    1. Thank you for your kind words,Teresa! It's true, it's a blessing not to be taken for granted.

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  4. There are so many beautiful things here that you said perfectly. My mom started making me a recipe book a couple years ago, and no interest cooking board could ever replace it. Some of the recipes say things at the bottom like "hannah's favorite meal between ages 5-7" etc. At one of my showers, the hosts did the same thing and I cried as I read them. The one that got me was m granny's recipe for cough syrup. At the bottom she wrote "reading the original of this recipe in my daddy's handwriting is actually the very best medicine." SLAY ME NOW.

    But on another note, why DON'T people give kittens??????

    ~Hannah

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    1. Oh, I LOVE that yours is like a memory AND recipe box.

      Had I been present to witness the granny cough syrup recipe I am sure I would have completely fallen apart.

      There's something about getting married that turned me into a sentimental puddle over the smallest of things.

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  5. This is so beautiful. I definitely teared up reading this. Congratulations to both of you. :)

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  6. this is the sweetest thing. my mom did a similar thing asking people to send their favorite Bible verses and marriage advice and she compiled it all into a binder. but yours? yours is so sweet and practical and just perfect. I love gifts like these.

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    1. That's a great idea, too! I love knowing what verses mean the most to people - there's always a story behind it, you know?

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  7. Oh WOW. This is absolutely beautiful and brought me to tears! I imagine that love was bursting at the seams of your home at that moment. Thanks so much for sharing such a beautiful gift!

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    1. Oh girrrrl, it was. I was a sentimental mess! I was crying, my mom was crying. Bryan and my stepdad were not crying. They were mostly quiet because I don't think guys know what to do when girls cry happy tears :)

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  8. I must be really emotional lately because the quote from Little Women moved me to tears. I also adore the fact that you also call your mom "Marmee." I adore Little Women and can relate so much with Jo!

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    1. Everything makes me cry to begin with, but lately it's been even worse. I even cry at commercials. (NO I AM NOT PREGNANT). Have you read all of the Little Women trilogy? I read Little Women and didn't know that there are like THREE OTHER BOOKS. I feel spicy like Jo but I like that it's easy to relate to each sister in some ways. Minus Amy. I just don't like Amy.

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  9. I loved doing this! I thought it was such a fun gift idea!

    Also, can I tell you that Derek wanted nothing more than to gift to you Topanga and Mr. Feeny (our very large, very furry cats) as a wedding gift. We thought when we got Moose that the cats would warm up to him but they never did, so Derek has been trying to find a happy home for them for a while. He kept telling Bryan that he was going to give them to you guys as a wedding gift, but Bryan didn't seem to thrilled about it. So, in short, you were close to getting not a kitten, but 2 cats as a wedding gift :)

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    1. Ahahaha Bryan told me about the cat friends - I feel like Derek has been trying this for a while. Bryan is more about getting a dog than cats right now. I don't think he minds them, but he doesn't want hair everywhere. But I probably shed more than any cat, so I think he'll probably come around. I don't know that he'll warm to a 2 for 1 deal, but we'll see ;)

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  10. My grandma, who left this earth in May, did this for my mom (her daughter-in-law) the year before my parents got married in 1978. She'd write out her famous recipes and always document her day on the back of each card. A recipe journal of sorts. My mom still uses those recipes and I still love thumbing through them. My favorite is the one that says this on the back (paraphrasing): "Linda, today you came over and somehow Keith innocently brought up how many times a day you took a sh!t." I remember laughing at that so much when I was a kid. And now I see how fitting it was that my grandma was so blatant, and felt that information was what she should include on the back of her recipe card to my mom that day. I think it's beyond sweet that your mom included everyone you invited to the wedding. So beautiful. That has to be the sweetest gift ever.

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    1. Also. My mom used to jokingly demand we call her marmee when we were younger. I was homeschooled for a bit and she'd always read that to us in the afternoons.

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    2. Hahaha that made me laugh out loud. Even though I don't personally know you, it feels like something you would write and that makes it even better. It's like the blatantness passed down through the generations. I have missed your comments! They are always great.

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  11. What a perfect gift. I want to hug your mama and your grandmother. And you, of course. I am so happy you have them and this wonderful gift. So, so happy.

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    1. You are one of those people that celebrates with friends well. I can just tell even from your comments. Thank you, lovely.

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  12. I had to hold back the tears reading this post! On my mom's side I am in the "middle" of all the grandkids. For each one of us, my granny makes us a binder with pictures and newspaper clippings of us she has collected over the years and she also makes us a recipe book (I know this because my older cousins are all married!) I'm still years away from marriage and yet I'm so looking forward to it because I will finally get my own book! For me, the recipes aren't about the food but about the memories and the love and soul that went into preparing it and enjoying it together with my family - I am sure you feel the same :)

    congratulations on your wedding!!

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  13. Crying, just so you know. My heart is so full of joy for you and your husband! It still seems like yesterday we were fighting over Mariah and Whitney parts. Best wishes and everything to you, D! You really deserve it.

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  14. Crying, just so you know. My heart is so full of joy for you and your husband! It still seems like yesterday we were fighting over Mariah and Whitney parts. Best wishes and everything to you, D! You really deserve it.

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  15. The recipe is the best gift that I have seen! I think I will make this but gather more recipe so that I could give it to my son’s wedding in case I still live that long.

    http://www.heartsakes.com/

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  16. I got married here this past October. All I can say is WOW. We were actually in the side room, which is smaller and a fabulous alternative than the larger spaces available.
    Wedding venues NYC

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