Every year around this time of the year we would watch for it.
We would hear a delivery truck coming down the street and race to the window, our little faces pressed against the glass hoping, willing it to stop at our house.
And then would come the day that the truck did finally pull up to the curb in front of our house. We held our breath as the delivery man rummaged through the back before emerging holding something…was it the right size? Was it the right shape?
Was it THE BOX?
The doorbell would ring, we would hear the ‘thunk’ of it being dropped on our doorstep and we would race to open the door and drag it inside.
I didn’t think much of it at the time, but our mom always looked kind of wistful as we cut through the tape and lifted the lid of the box.
Once opened, the contents of the box revealed themselves. Packages wrapped in colorful paper, some with the coveted tags which read, “Open Now” and some we knew would have to wait until Christmas morning. But, what we were most excited about were the packages wrapped in foil or tucked into Christmas tins.
Because we knew that those held the true treasures. Sugar cookies perfectly decorated, peanut butter balls, indoor S’mores, Rice Krispie Treats and candy.
These treats, this box, was a lifeline to our grandmother. And for two little girls living in California with no grandparents nearby, it represented so much. We imagined her at her home in Michigan baking in her kitchen and then carefully wrapping up the goodies to send all the way across the country to us.
Grandma passed away two years ago this Christmas. She was a farmers wife who worked tirelessly from sun-up to sun-down. She loved gardening, baking, her family and most of all The Lord. I loved every single treat that came from that box she sent to us. But the one that makes me feel the most connected to her, and to my mom are her Molasses Cookies.
Two weeks ago, as my parents were traveling from Heather’s home in Georgia to my home in Oregon, they got caught in a horrible storm and wound up stuck on an Interstate in Texas unable to drive due to the 4 inches of ice and countless accidents ahead of them. They were there for 25 hours. And we all felt so helpless. I could talk to them on the phone and Heather and I were calling the local authorities to try and get them help and praying and praying and praying for them. But I couldn’t DO anything!
So, I baked. I baked the one thing that felt the most familiar, the most comforting.
Grandma’s Molasses Cookies.
When my daughter heard me gathering ingredients in the kitchen she quickly ran in and asked to help. I pulled up a kitchen stool and she sat down and we began going through the steps of the recipe.
And as we did I told her all about two little girls at Christmas-time. Little girls, just like her, who anxiously awaited the arrival of THE BOX . I told her about her great-grandmother and how much she loved Christmas. How she would sometimes even not be able to wait until the big day and would sneak a peek at her presents under the tree.
I told her about her Nonna, my mom, and how much she loves Christmas and all the traditions she created which we still carry on today. As I talked about my mom I ached just thinking about them being stuck so far away. And I ached because I missed my family…my parents, my sister and brother-in-law and niece and nephew.
And then it dawned on me.
That wistful look my mom would get every year when the box arrived was because she ached inside missing her own mom. Missing her home in Michigan and all of her family.
In reality, the box meant far more to her then it did to us.
I went to bed that night with the sweet aroma of the molasses cookies lingering in the house. It was a restless night of worrying about my parents still stranded in a cold truck on the interstate. As soon as I got up the next morning I called Heather (she’s in a time zone three hours ahead) and got the latest update.
They were still stuck.
We did the only thing we knew to do. We asked for prayer on the At the Picket Fence Facebook page.
And then something amazing happened. Something truly incredible! Not only were people praying but they were spurred into action. One dear reader named Connie contacted her daughter who contacted her friend Shiloh who happened to live in the area where my parents were stuck. Shiloh and her boyfriend got access to a truck and somehow, someway were able to find our parents amid all of those vehicles on the interstate. They brought gas for the truck, food and blankets.
And we were beyond grateful…and humbled. We rejoiced that our prayers were answered and we were overwhelmed by this act of kindness and generosity by total strangers. We still are overwhelmed by it…
And one week later when my parents finally pulled into the driveway of their new home in Oregon, we greeted them with hugs and laughter and a twinkling Christmas tree…
And Grandma’s Molasses Cookies.