Historical Homemaking – tradition & blueberry muffins.


When my kids were little, I was a real party-pooper.  They were not allowed to trade Pokemon cards, read Harry Potter or watch the Disney Channel.  Anything that most of America’s children were obsessed with was automatically banned in our home.  Instead, we watched Veggie Tales videos and Little House on the Prairie reruns.  I even coined the phrase that I am and always have been “anti-trendy.”
I would like to claim that is because I have completely mastered Romans 12:2 and don’t “conform any longer to the pattern of this world” but have been completely “transformed by the renewing of” my mind and am able to “test and approve what God’s will is.”  But I am certainly not that holy or consistent.
Traditions are inherited, established or customary patterns of thought, actions or behaviors.  In pondering my habit of automatically rejecting new trends, I realize that I am perhaps acting out in defense of tradition.  I don’t want to lose, and I don’t want my kids and their kids to forget the significance of the lives of former generations.  I want their thoughts, actions and behaviors to reflect their Godly heritage – not Disney’s.  So what about popular new trends that are becoming traditions?  Should we be keeping them?  And what about all the old traditions we keep?  Is it important to know their source and meaning?  Consider this story of one family’s tradition:

Once upon a time there was hungry man.  He brought home a prize Virginia ham and asked his wife to cook it for him.  She happily took the ham, cut off one end and placed both pieces in a baking dish.  The husband looked at the wife and exclaimed, “What did you do to my ham?!  Why did you cut off the end?!”  The wife thought for a moment then responded, “I don’t know why I cut off the end.  That’s what my mom always did.”  So the wife called her mother and asked her, “Mom, why do you always cut off the end of a ham when you bake it?”  Mom answered, “I don’t know why I cut off the end.  That’s what my mom always did.”  So they decided to ask Grandma, “Grandma, why do you always cut off the end of a ham when you bake it?”  Grandma answered, “I don’t know why you cut the end off of your ham but, mine wouldn’t fit in the pan.”

What is the point of holding fast to a tradition when we don’t know why we do it?  Some traditions that we keep just don’t make any sense.  Some traditions are well, just silly or pointless and may even be keeping us in a type of bondage.  I know this first hand because I knew the bondage of the proper folding of bath towels for many, many years.  My mother always insisted on towels being folded a particular way for my entire life, so as an adult I, of course, always folded my towels the same way.  
Then one day, I was at my parents’ home when my mom was folding laundry.  I noticed she wasn’t folding her towels the same way she had taught me.  She was folding them a much easier and quicker way.  I couldn’t believe my eyes!  I exclaimed, “What are you doing folding towels that way?!  I always got in trouble if I folded towels like that!”  She looked at me, a little surprised at my over-reaction, and said, “That’s how they best fit in the cupboard at our old house.  This house has wider shelves.”
However, we also shouldn’t limit ourselves in identifying ways to create new traditions for our families.  When my husband was growing up, his single mom had to work long hours and she didn’t have the luxury of an abundance of extra time to spend with her kids.  But, she devised a brilliant solution for making birthday mornings extra special.  On the morning of their birthday, she would rise early and bake blueberry muffins.  As the heavenly aroma filled the rooms, the birthday kid would be awakened with a song and a warm muffin topped with a birthday candle.

Kim’s youngest, Sam, enjoy his birthday morning muffins. 
My husband cherished these memories and brought this tradition into our home.  And it blesses me to say that it has continued into our married daughters’ homes.  I hope there never comes a birthday morning-muffin-eating generation down the line that doesn’t know that it began with my Mom-in-law’s desire to celebrate the births of her kids and make them feel loved.
It was never my goal in life to suck all the fun out of my kids’ lives by limiting their exposure to popular trends that could have become traditions.  In my concern for the traditions that our family would be known for in coming generations, I simply didn’t want them to be known for their Pokemon card collection or their love for Harry Potter.
Even though on this earth we can’t reach the perfection of always knowing the will of God for our families, we can come close according to Romans 12:2.  We can refuse to conform to the pattern of popular trends (a truly first-world, American phenomenon) and we can certainly be transformed by letting the Holy Spirit renew our minds.
Letting God have our minds gives us eyes to see the world like He does – stamped with eternity and through the lens of Grace. 
What family tradition can you teach your kids about today that will strengthen their Biblical worldview?
(From Lilah: Okay, so I found this Lego stop motion video of “Tradition” from Fiddler On The Roof on YouTube and just had to add it in here…that’s all.)
I don’t have a favorite blueberry muffin recipe.  Honestly, since this tradition of rising early and baking muffins is my husband’s idea, and he is naturally the early riser in our family, he usually does the early birthday morning baking.  Consequently, I keep a supply of “just add water” blueberry muffin mix in my pantry for birthdays.  And I have to confess that I don’t think anyone bakes a better blueberry muffin than Costco.  But, that is cheating, according to my husband, because if you use store-bought muffins the house doesn’t smell like them.
I have seen a blueberry muffin scented candle but, never mind that’s beside the point.
We have however, one very important tip when it comes to baking blueberry muffins regardless of which mix or recipe you use and that is – generously sprinkle the top with sugar before baking.  The type of sugar is a personal preference – we have used organic cane sugar, granulated sugar and brown sugar at different times.  At other times, we have made a streusel topping by mixing butter in but decided we prefer the melted butter on the hot baked muffin and there’s no reason to double up.  And just one more note on baking muffins (and most cakes, cookies and quick breads) – never ever bake them as long as the recipe says.  Bake just till firm on the top for optimum moistness.
-Grandma Kiki
Kim’s interest in Historical Homemaking began with Civil War
Reenacting and led to selling her sundries at Farmers Markets across the Big Horn Basin. Her cookies are a local favorite and she enjoys sharing stories with her customers and giving free samples. She loves to write. Her favorite pastime is spending afternoons with her family and grand babies.

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