Remembrance of Crepes Past
(by Makella Brems)
A tradition is only established once its origins are buried by years of repeated practice, lost in memory somewhere between the address of one's childhood home and the plot details of To Kill A Mockingbird.
"Maybe it was when we moved to Paradise Lakes."
"Or maybe it was when Mimi gave us the Le Creuset pan."
I called my mother the other day to see if she could recall the first December morning she made what my family now refers to as the Christmas crepes.
“I can’t remember. Isn’t that funny?”
Neither could I. Christmas crepes were as much a fixture of our holiday as decorating the tree and opening presents. In fact, they were the only thing that could keep me from opening presents prematurely.
On that magical morning every year, I would wake up well before the sun, tiptoe into the living room, and stare longingly at the presents glowing under hundreds of red and white bulbs on the tree.
“No presents until we’ve had breakfast!” The sound of my mother’s voice in my head made me keep my distance. After two to or three circuits of “Mom. Mom!,” a healthy jump on my parents’ bed, and a lot of grumbling, my mother and father would shuffle down the hall and start the breakfast production. The Brems family holiday playlist was queued up: Twelve Days of Christmas (the Muppets version), Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, and a whole lot of Ella Fitzgerald. Then we assumed our positions.
I manned the berry-rinsing and banana-peeling station. My father whipped the cream, and my mother ting-tinged and tap-tap-tapped measuring spoons against a metal mixing bowl. Pretty soon, the smell of sizzling butter directed my priorities away from presents and toward my stomach.
Where my mother considers herself sous-chef to my father at all other times of the year, on Christmas morning she commands the kitchen with confidence and grace. One hand pours creamy batter with a metal ladle, and the other smooths the batter over the pan with a wooden T tool.
“Let me try!” My mother handed me the tool and patiently watched as I stabbed and smushed the batter into a lumpy glob. Resigned back to my fruit station, I watched her pile perfect crepe after perfect crepe onto a porcelain plate. Appreciation of any craft comes from attempted re-creation.