It was a Sunday like countless others in my life…my children and I woke up and attended Sunday School and church, then headed over to my grandmother’s house for Sunday Dinner. On this particular day, she made Chicken and Stuffing Casserole, salad, and a boxed cheesecake mix. It was heaven. Not because the food was fancy, but because someone made it for me. Someone cared enough to think, plan, and shop for me. As I sat around the table, looking at everyone, I thought about how blessed I was. My 86-year-old grandmother made me dinner, and had been for my entire life. In this world in which children move thousands of miles away for careers or other opportunities, I chose this life. Not a perfect life in which there would be no conflict or trouble, but one connected to those who have loved me and prayed for me since before I was born. This is the life I wanted for my children, and this is Nana, Iris Joan Fike. She would absolutely die if you called her Iris, because she always said there was a girl named Iris that was mean to her when she was a child. She wanted to be called Joan, and Joan she is called.
Anyway, after eating dinner and washing the dishes with Nana, I went downstairs to let the dog out. As I stood there waiting for the dog, it hit me: this won’t last forever. One of these days, it would be my last Sunday Dinner at Nana’s…for one reason or another. I wanted to freeze time. I wanted my kids to know what this tradition, and many other family traditions, have meant to me. How they’ve cemented generations of our family together and continue to keep us close, even when we’re separated by many miles.
Most of my life is not very Rockwellian. I don’t live in a fancy house, keep it perfectly clean and organized, or always make beautiful food for my family. I have wood paneling. I’m not at my “goal weight.” Sometimes I yell. I often forget things. And quite frankly, right now, my daughters are at ages where they don’t actually believe I’m a human being, let alone one with thoughts and feelings. But one thing I can do is create and keep traditions. I have generations of entertaining ideas and recipes to share with you, and with my children someday. I can’t promise you that my recipes will be 100% healthy, but they will be from my life. I can’t promise that my photography will be excellent, but I will try to be real and include what my life looks like now. It won’t always be pretty, but this is my way to chronicle my memories and recipes for my family, though they aren’t interested right now. It’s also my way to inspire you to record yours. Those little moments will matter someday. Those cookies you “always” make for your kids will become a childhood memory. Write them down, even if you’re the only one who sees it right now. Someday, those who follow you will be grateful.