Cookbook

I have this cookbook…

It was a wonderful Christmas present my sister made for our large family of aunts and uncles, moms and dads, cousins, nieces and nephews.  Grandma was in on the surprise, and she also wrote a letter to the family as part of the gift.  It’s a coffee table cookbook filled with beautiful photos of Grandma cooking, and wonderful pictures of the meal we have feasted upon weekly all our lives, Sunday Dinner.  It was my privilege to write this forward for the book…

There really are no words to truly describe Sunday Dinner at Grandma’s.  Walking through the front door, being wafted with the delicious aroma of roast and baked apples.  A ballgame on the TV, conversations bouncing around the room, little children running and squealing with laughter grabbing cheese slices off the bar, kitchen sounds of water running, blenders whirring, okra frying, vegetables being chopped, ice falling into glasses.

 

The beautiful mixture of beat up pots and pans along with Fostoria crystal is as familiar to all of us as anything else in this world.  We have been treated to this special meal for as long as we have lived.  Whether you only get to come once or twice a year, or if you are seated at the table every Sunday, you know without a doubt it is a grand legacy.

 

Thank you, Grandma, for spoiling us so!

We’re a close knit family.  Many of us live near one another in small communities of eastern New Mexico and west Texas.  We are together often, but the most excellent time of togetherness was always Sunday dinner at Grandma’s house.  She began the tradition when she was a young bride, and we’ve all heard stories of how she and Granddad squeezed guests into their tiny kitchen after church services.

Hundreds of roasts have been cooked in the cookware my grandparents bought when they were first married.  We love it that those pots and pans were never replaced.  They just grew in character as the years went by.  2007, the year the cookbook was made, marked 70 years of devoted service from that set of Wear-Ever.  With Grandma’s special touch they turned out meal after meal of delicious roasts and gravy, and an incredible variety of mouth watering vegetable dishes and fruit cobblers.

The family always worked together to get the meal ready for the moment the prayer was said and the food was passed.  Tea in the glasses, salad tossed, the table cloth chosen, the tables set.  It always began with the all important count.  Who would be there that day, who was out of town, would any friends be joining?  We always set the tables formally with everything just so, the large dining table for adults and the smaller “kids’ table” in the kitchen.

Grandma and Granddad started a furniture business in the 50s, and we dined at tables and chairs of their favorite maker, Tell City.  My generation especially loved the progression to the adult table.  Once you brought a serious boyfriend or girlfriend to dinner, you advanced.  And as our family grew, more card tables had to be included.  A tiny crowd, and very rare, might be ten people.  Typically her house was filled with twenty to thirty.

That year, on Christmas Eve, after our annual holiday feast and the happy chaos of the gift exchange, the special cookbooks were passed out.  The noisy room, packed with people, grew instantly silent and eyes filled with tears as everyone looked with amazement at the masterpiece they held in their hands.  My sister and my niece had outdone themselves, and we all knew we were holding a priceless keepsake.  Sunday Dinner in all its glory had been captured for all time.

Grandma was the proudest of all. She was showing that book to all her friends in the days to come, and we were showing it to all of ours.  One of my friends, looking at a page with the table set and laden with food, asked “What was the special occasion?”  I told her it was simply Sunday Dinner, and every week it was a special occasion.

Tragically, we lost our beloved matriarch one month later.  A natural gas explosion destroyed her home and took her life.  It was a Wednesday evening.  At the age of 91, she had worked all day at the furniture store she ran with two of her children, and she had gone home with a few family members to cook supper for everyone before going to church that night.  In a horrible event that could have claimed the lives of many in our family, we had to count our blessings that only one life was lost.  But the loss was devastating.

How we treasure our books now.  This heirloom is beyond priceless.  The dishes, tables and chairs were all destroyed in the accident.  We’re so thankful to have these books filled with beautiful photos and memories of the amazing love poured out to all of us by this incredible woman, Clytie Lynn Calton.

Our family continues to eat huge, delicious meals together.  Grandma always knew we would.  If we could pass something on to your family, it would be this…  Cook and eat together when you can.  And no matter how big or small the crowd, no matter how often or few and far between the opportunities, make sure they are special occasions.


14 Responses to “Cookbook”

  1. Janet Herbert says:

    Thanks for sharing. I remember exactly what we were doing.

    I love the book. Love your FAMILY!

  2. bette says:

    Memories of those we love are so precious, and thankfully they can be treasured always!!! What a wonderful legacy! <3

  3. Michelle says:

    What a beautiful, amazing post! I am sitting here crying tears of sadness for your loss, but mostly tears of happiness for all the joy and memories your family has shared. Wow! That is incredible.

    That cookbook sounds like a most incredible treasure indeed. So glad I clicked over here today.

  4. Sandy says:

    The book is the most beautiful thing! My sister is an incredible photographer, and everyone who sees it wishes for a copy.

  5. Jane Calton Welch says:

    What a lucky family we are to have had Grandma and Granddad to guide us! How lucky we are to have each other! Hope for many more Sunday Dinners together!

  6. Mary Anne says:

    What a treasure! Yes, I love your sister’s pictures and this cookbook appears to be beautiful. Such a fitting tribute to your grandmother.

  7. Tawna Ward says:

    I loved being a guest at Sunday Dinners and I was many times! Your Grandma was always so cordial and welcoming!! When the cookbooks came out at her funeral, I must admit, I was covetous!!! Something about Clydie’s cooking made EVERYTHING delicious!! Never tasted anything I didn’t care for!

    Wonderful tribute to a MAGNIFICENT woman!

    Love ya!

  8. Marcea Clive says:

    Other families can honor a Mother or Grandmother by doing the same thing. My sisters and I published a cookbook in honor of our Mother, a few years ago, and it is cherished by everyone in the family.
    Sandy, thanks for sharing.

  9. Kim Mann says:

    Thank you for posting this. I will always remember that last Christmas together in her house.

  10. Cindy Gallagher says:

    I always love to read what you write. You make it feel just like being there as it is happening. I too remember Sunday dinner at Aunt Clytie’s What a special treat. She was truly an incredible woman. Anyone who had her in their lives is very blessed.

  11. Betty Williamson says:

    Sandy, somehow I missed this post until just today. I, too, have tears in my eyes as I remember your amazing grandmother. She was truly a matriarch of her clan, and like many others, I will never forget that tragic day of the explosion. I remember talking to people in the days afterwards and everyone saying that if anyone could survive this, it would be Clytie. I really want to see that book. (Okay, to be honest, I really want a copy, but in lieu of that, I’d at least like the chance to flip through it and see it first hand). I may just have to invite myself over some day for coffee. Thank you so much for this beautiful post.

  12. Evie Taylor says:

    What a precious read and such a lovely living mental picture i had as I read the forward you wrote, almost as if I had momentarily travelled back in time and was part of the celebrations! Thank you for a beautiful sharing of your family history. What a treasure your family has in this world where many, if not most, have no such memories of family togetherness. Feels like I got to have a small part in the sharing of the tale. Blessings to you and yours, in Christ!

  13. lawanda calton says:

    Just read this blog again Sandy and am overwhelmed with emotion………

  14. Robin Green says:

    How glad I am that I got to be with your family for one of those Sunday dinners. Your grandmother kept the faith in so many ways, and passed a legacy on to all.

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