This past weekend my daughter went ice skating for the first time ever. As such, I followed her around the neighbor’s backyard rink to make sure that when she fell, I was there to catch her. I’m not sure how long we were out there, but when we were heading in, I had that wonderful feeling of heading into a nice, warm house after a fun day in the snow. Do you know that feeling? It was a nostalgic feeling, made even more prominent when my daughter suggested that we should have hot chocolate.
See, when I was a kid, my brother and sister and I would go outside and play in the snow only to come in afterward and find that my mom had made hot cocoa (from scratch!) and fresh, hot donuts. I remember my mom frying them in oil on the stove, and one of us kids would be the one to shake them in a bag of sugar immediately after and use tongs to put them on a plate to share. I preferred the donut holes (they always tasted better than the donuts.) Just thinking about it conjures up the scent of sugar, chocolate, and oil mingling in the air.
So, in coming inside our house last weekend, I yearned for this comfort food that was such a staple of my childhood. It was a tradition (a delicious one, at that!), and I sorely missed it. I felt a hole in the experience, like the record I was enjoying just skipped. I felt bad for my daughter, as I don’t think she ever got to try a homemade donut before her diagnosis, and now she never would. She would always come in from the snow to…no fresh donuts.
After getting our snow gear off, I found my husband in the kitchen. He was rolling out pastel-colored dough (blue, purple, pink, white). He was making homemade conversation hearts. I find this incredibly romantic as, until 3 Valentine’s Days ago, I had a mild, seasonal addiction to Brach’s conversation hearts. Then I got celiac disease and since they can’t guarantee that there isn’t cross contamination with gluten in their factories, that was the end of that. He recently found a recipe and apparently decided to give it a try.
And so it was, that while watching my husband and daughter use tiny cookies cutters to cut out what appeared to be glorified play-dough (the irony of that isn’t lost on me, since Play-Dough isn’t gluten free, either), I had an epiphany. I realized that my daughter would not experience that twang of nostalgic pain over homemade fried donuts. Ever.
The reason they call comfort food “comfort food” is because people find comfort in it. And what I find comforting about comfort food is that it reminds me of family and tradition. These moments – these NEW moments that we are creating for her – these will create the comfort food yearnings that she will have going forward. These might be the traditions she relies on while creating special memories with her children. Someday she might come in from taking her kids sledding and have an inexplicable urge to make, or all things, homemade conversation hearts.
And I find that thought very comforting, indeed.