Saturday, December 3, 2011

Storytelling Sunday: Connected Memories

I woke up Friday already exhausted.  It was going to be a very long day at the end of a very long week. I couldn't remember the last time I had a chance to stop and breathe and relax, to sit quietly and just be. I had to skip my Thursday morning workout because I was drowning in work  assignment, family commitments and (most of all) volunteer work for my son's soccer team. I had driven the team to a soccer game on Thursday night, not getting home until after 10:00 p.m. And, on Friday morning, I rolled out of bed early because the soccer team had agreed to run a snack bar at a huge wrestling tournament hosted by the high school. I was in charge of opening the snack bar and overseeing it from 7:45 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and then returning to oversee the closing shift from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. I had arranged for a delivery of tamales to sell at the snack bar, and at mid-morning, the tamale man arrived.  
They smelled delicious - warm and savory and like my Grandmother's kitchen. I grabbed a couple of tamales and sat down in the sunshine to enjoy the taste of memory, mixed with chicken and masa and chili. And in that moment, so many memories came flooding back. Of the time I made tamales with my Abuelita in her kitchen in Texas. Of the many trips with my mom to neighborhood kitchens to pick up tamales for Christmas. Of sitting and sipping tequila with my father over a steaming plate of tamales on Christmas morning. 
For me, tamales are inextricably bound up with Christmas memories and my Latino heritage. They connect me with my childhood and with the generations who have come before me. And, since my son's soccer team is almost entirely Latino, they also connect me with my present and my future. I took a deep breath, finished my tamales and returned to the snack bar. Thoughts of my past and my future swirling through my head. 
At the end of the day, after my closing shift, I bought a dozen tamales, and passed them out to the students who had helped during the day and others I met as I walked across campus. Every person who took one smiled in anticipation, as if I had given them a gift.  
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This story is offered as part of Sian's Storytelling Sunday and is inspired by her Christmas Club storytelling project. The photograph above features a fork from my grandmother's silver plate table setting and a lace doily which she made. For more stories, go to this link.

31 comments:

Terry said...

We have been going to the same Mexican Restaurant for 10 years and knew the owners while they worked at another! We went there after Thanksgiving and they were bringing us tamales that their mama had made. So wonderful! Have a wonderful Sunday!

Amy said...

Rinda, I have just googled how to make tamales. We don't have a lot of latino cuisine here in Australia, our influences are more Asian and Mediterranean. Anyway, they sound quite delicious - does the outer corn case soften to be edible? I can't imagine that it would but, since I don't know I won't presume!

Hey, no wonder Christmas Day is a great party at your place, tequila for breakfast??? lol, I'd be legless by lunchtime! ;-) Sounds like a lot of fun!

Melissa said...

What lovely memories those tamales brought back for you - thanks for sharing.

Tamales remind me of a few years ago when I was teaching at a middle school - one of our student's mom would make tamales & bring them around each month for us to purchase. They were delicious!!

A Very Merry Christmas to you Rinda!

Margi said...

I would so be smiling too if someone were handing me tamales! Oh how I love them and I too associate tamales with Christmas. I spent 4 years with a family in Texas and we spent a week before Christmas making tamales for each of the brothers and sisters as well as for Christmas dinner. Oh how I miss that!

Ruth said...

A lovely story, amazing how food can bring back memories from long again, just by the smell or the first taste.
Happy Christmas to you and yours.

scrappyjacky said...

I completely agree with Ruth...for me taste and smell are the two things that really bring christmas memories rushing back.

Miriam said...

Me too, taste and smell are two very powerful senses for me. I love the way you express with your words how strong your family ties are. Tequila for breakfast? Why not, I have Disaronno every Christmas morning x
Merry Christmas Rinda

Scribble Monster said...

I am off to google tamales, I have heard of them here in deepest devon, england but not any more than that. I love that food can instantly transport us to another time or place. I love your story.
Merry Christmas :)

Miss Smith said...

What a lovely memory. I think it's great when a certain taste or smell can take you back - and hopefully find you a moment's peace and quiet!

Amy said...

What a lovely story :) This happens to me often, I think taste can be one of the most evocative senses. Thanks for sharing, Merry Christmas!
xxx

heart.hearth.home. said...

How wonderful you took the time to sit down and reflect, to let the memories come flooding back. Food can do that. If I smell almonds, I always think of my granny who would always make me a bakewell tart if I asked. Have a wonderful holiday season and thanks for your story.

Sian said...

You get a lot out of life Rinda, no doubt about it. You pack a lot in!

I'll be thinking about your wonderful story of smells as we head into the kitchen to make our first batch of Christmas Mincepies later this afternoon.

Your continued support and your fund of stories have been very much enjoyed by us all this year. A Merry Christmas to the whole family!

S said...

Yes, it is that time of year when every minute we can sit and reflect should be cherished. And it's no wonder that we all have so many wonderful memories linked to our favorite foods prepared by our favorite loved one. Thanks for sharing!

Deb @ Paper Turtle said...

First, I am SO happy that I know what a tamale is, and even more happy that you have shared this story about your Christmas memories of them. I LOVE tamales - favorite are green corn. Yum!!!

And, I don't feel so bad about having chocolate for breakfast on Christmas morning now that I know you drank tequila with yours! ;o)

Merry Christmas, dear friend!

debs14 said...

Well - UK Deb didn't know what a tamale was and had to google it to find out! They sound yummy and I'm sure the lucky people you handed them too enjoyed them. Just reading about what you cram into your day makes me feel exhausted Rinda - you must have much more energy than I do! (Or maybe it's just because I'm older ...)

Jimjams said...

Since seeing your photo over on 12DoC I've googled and am intrigued by the tamale variations I've found - they sound delicious. Hopefully one day I shall get to taste one!

Hope your Christmas is a great one Rinda - I'll toast you in champagne if you'll raise your tequilla glass!

Merry Christmas ♥

Becky said...

I've just had to google tamale too! They do sound yummy - no wonder people were smiling when you handed them out. What a lovely story to share. Merry Christmas to you and your family xx

Carola Bartz said...

Rinda, you did give them a gift. This is such a wonderful, heartfelt story. I love tamales if they are not too spicy. So far I've never eaten them in a restaurant but those homemade ones by a friend's husband who's from Mexico - and they were delicious. Oh, and the first time actually was at a holiday party! Nice memories for me as well - thank you, Rinda.

Cheri said...

Isn't it fun how many memories can be evoked by the foods we eat? Great story Rinda!

Alison said...

I'm another one off to Google 'tamales'...a lovely memory to have shared Rinda...and I agree that taste and smell evoke so many memories!
Alison xx

furrypig said...

Tamales are new to me too, but I love how a food can take you back to different times and stir memories. I hope to try tamales sometime in the future. Like Jim Jams I will raise a glass of champers as you drink your tequila Merry Christmas xxx

The Mann Fam said...

I love this memory. Christmas Eve wouldn't be Christmas Eve if there aren't loads and loads of aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends crammed into a small home enjoying homemade tamales.

There are so many types of tamales made out there but none compare to those made by my aunts and uncles.

I can recall a few times when I was able to be included in the tamale making party. Such wonderful memories. So looking forward to tamales in a few weeks.

Irene said...

Every time I hear the word tequila I will think of you taking a drink on Christmas Day with Uncle Pete.

Karen said...

What wonderful connections you made! I've never had a tamale, and wouldn't know where to find a good one around here, but I'd love to try one.

Lizzie said...

A great way to relax - something comforting to eat, which stirs up memories of happy times.
Sounds like you had quite a week, Rinda - I hope you were able to relax this weekend.
I have never eaten Tamales, but often wondered what they are like. There's a Mexican restaurant near our town, I think I will try to go there and try some!
Thank you for sharing your great story - as much a gift as the tamales you were handing out!
X

Gail said...

I loved reading how the tamales brought back so many memories for you - for me it's the smells of Christmas baking that does it.
Tequila at breakfast? We'll toast you with our Mimosas. Merry Christmas to you and your famly Rinda.

Tracy said...

I am not exactly sure what tamales are, but they sure sound good!

Denise said...

It was lovely reading how the tamales conjured up Christmas memories for you. I really know that feeling of not having time to even breathe! Hope things have calmed for you now x

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

oh yum! tamales!

Cheryl said...

What a lovely story and so true have a Merry Christmas x

Fiona@staring at the sea said...

Flavours and scents are so evocative, aren't they. I will have to investigate tamales, as I have no clear idea what they are. Thank goodness for Google! Wishing you a very Merry Christmas xx