Cheers to Books Shared with Friends

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I love Christmastime.  I have so many fond memories of Christmases spent with family and friends and with different traditions in different cities.  One of my most favorite Christmas traditions in Chicago was my book club holiday gathering.  I started the book club in 2005 and we began with a few women I’d met through volunteering at my kid’s school.  Most of us became friends because of our kids, but we grew to really enjoy each other.  The book club holiday gathering started in 2009.  It quickly became our favorite meeting of the year because we invited our spouses and made it special based on whatever book the hostess chose.  My favorite memory was at Susan’s.  She picked the book A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg.  The book is a collection of stories and recipes about her family and their love of cooking and eating.  It’s a wonderful book if you want to be inspired to create family traditions in the kitchen.  Because Susan loves to cook and she was inspired by Wizenberg’s book she decided we should all choose a recipe from our childhood to share at the holiday meeting.  I decide to make German chocolate cake with coconut pecan frosting.  German chocolate cake is my dad’s favorite and every year my sister’s and I would make it for him for his birthday.  Back then we used Betty Crocker mix and canned frosting, but he loved it anyway.  It was a sweet memory that I wanted to share with my book club.

The first Friday in December, we trudged through the snow and the freezing temps with our treasured recipes to share.  After a cocktail or two to warm up, we went around and told the stories about our recipes.  Linda made Ole Pie because as a kid her family would make it together.  It was a Mexican casserole.  Trina made Kolaczki’s inspired by her Polish heritage.  Kolaczki’s are flaky little pastries filled with fruit, cheese or nuts.  Cathy made the most memorable recipe.  She made a salmon mousse in a salmon mold.  Anyone remember those?  If I remember correctly it was a distinctly seventies dish.  We couldn’t believe she still had a salmon mold, but it was her mother’s and she remembered many parties where her mother would make salmon mousse for her guests.  I’m not a big fan of salmon, but her mousse was pretty good.  Natalie made a fruit punch.  I can’t remember the name, but it was one of those fruit punches with 7up and orange sherbet.  Her story about the family recipe and her mother’s punch bowl had us all in tears.  It was very sweet.  That night we laughed and cried.  We drank too much, ate too much and ended up singing at the end of the night.  Susan’s husband Jerry plays guitar and a night out with them always ended in music and singing.

The celebration of food and memories that night connected us in a way no other meeting or book had.  There was so much joy in sharing a bit of ourselves with each other.  I learned new things about each of my friends that I still carry with me today.  I miss them this time of year because I know they are preparing for the holiday meeting that I will miss for the first time.  I haven’t joined or started another book club here.  I am still reading along with them.  I will move on eventually, but right now I am happy to be a long distant member and I am grateful for the memories.

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5 thoughts on “Cheers to Books Shared with Friends

  1. I love this idea of sharing recipes. I understand how difficult it must be to settle in a new place and how much you miss your friends and wishing you lots of joy and fun on your adventure and nice people around to share it with 🙂

    • Thank you natella111. I love where I live now and I’m very happy, but sometimes I miss friends. Also, if you’re interested in more stories about friend sharing recipes, I’m reading another book similar to A Homemade Life that is all about sharing recipes and stories around the table. It’s called Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. Check it out and let me know what you think. So far I’m enjoying it. 🙂

      • Thank you for the suggestion, Dena! This is very sweet of you! It’s a bit difficult to get the books in English or get them shipped to my part of the world, but I’ll still try to order it as soon as opportunity arises. I also love the overall idea of book clubs. It’s not common where I live and I’d love to start something so exciting and enriching.

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