We have several talented writers/bloggers in our Heroes Gate family, and we will be featuring some of them here on the HG Update blog. This week’s post comes to us from Erica, one of our Emerging Generation staff members here at Woodland Hills.
My dad likes to tell the story of him and his nine siblings walking home for lunch on schooldays for a hot meal at the family table. The story continues that every day this meal was my grandmother’s Swedish pancakes, cooked thin on a griddle and dressed with a sprinkle of sugar. Syrup was an American addition, acquired during the assimilation process adopted by the family after emigrating from Sweden in the 1950’s.
I grew up with the same meal served up regularly, usually Sunday nights when Dad was cooking. The simple recipe made from scratch with only 6 ingredients was a subtle, consistent presence in our family kitchen and, consequently, lodged in my childhood memories. My grandma’s recipe for Swedish Pancakes was one of the few I personally requested be included in the family recipe book prepared for my bridal shower 17 years ago.
Now when our family gathers around the table Saturday mornings, we enjoy the same recipe. My husband, with no Swedish blood in him, became the pancake expert very early on in our marriage and has spent countless hours mixing the batter and cooking one at a time on his sacred griddle, rarely used for anything else. Over the murmurs and sighs from happy taste buds, he likes to say there is “a hundred pounds of love in every batch.”
This has been our tradition since before our three kids were born, now ages 10-14. As weekdays have become busier, family dinners are more sparse than they used to be. Knowing the family table is reserved for five each Saturday morning is like an anchor, rooting us in something bigger than ourselves. It creates space for us to look at each other in the eyes and hear each other’s voices.
Weekly rhythms like this are more remarkable as a whole than any individual event on its own. We don’t usually talk about deep topics or share warm hugs across the table, yet each week of this tradition is like a thread woven together with all the others to make a cord – something gently wrapped around each of us individually and all of us as a group.
Now we couldn’t get out of it if we tried! The kids expect and anticipate the sounds and smells of the preparation, which takes about an hour for a double batch. They gather their favorite toppings (which now include sour cream, lingonberries, powdered sugar and syrup) and wipe the sleep out of their eyes only moments before taking their first bites. Our eldest, with her characteristic independent spirit, stopped eating the pancakes years ago. She brings a bowl of cereal to the table instead.
An added bonus to this tradition in recent years is the pace at which we start the morning. Gone are the pre-dawn awakenings, cartoons in the background, diapers to change and hungry protests when the cakes take too long to cook. Now, my husband and I slowly sip coffee in an otherwise empty kitchen, talking about everything and nothing as batter is gradually transformed into our version of Grandma’s legacy.
A legacy of milk, eggs, syrup and griddles. And week after week of looking each other in the eyes and hearing each other’s voices.