It was the sourdough.
It was piled up on my mother's plate holder reminding me of late night toast.
Reminding me of how cozy it was to be back in my childhood. At Christmas time. One week left of school. Snow on the ground. Everything in the world ahead of me.
And toast, on Sunday nights, loaded with butter.
As I scraped remaining bites of corn off of my mother's china I stared at that sourdough and wanted my childhood back. Or at least to visit there for a couple hours.
Scrooge was so lucky.
I grew up in a dream. Family occupied the homes that surrounded ours. There was always a sibling to share pretended scenarios, or a cousin to star in the play I wrote. My mind was occupied by so little of real drama, that I spent hours making up my own. On Saturday mornings Dad made crepes which we stuffed with strawberry jam. I never thought anything could be more delicious.
But Christmastime was always the apex of the year. My mother is a skilled Christmas tree artist. No bough went unoccupied which made our home blink with color. There were treats, parties and presents enough.
Then, there I was scraping the plates again, looking at the sourdough.
Feeling like sourdough.
When it was time to go back home I loaded the children up and out. I wasn't ready to return to my adulthood, so I directed the car up the hill eastward. At the top sits my best friend Wendy's parent's home, where she now lives again. We caroled at the door, singing Claire's requested "Once In A Royal David's City" because "it is Sunday and we need to sing a Jesus song" even though I knew two words. Ollie just froze.
I have known this home all my life. Once inside, I was greeted by the familiar. The same bubbly lights on the family room Christmas tree. The voices sang, "Court!" with remembered emphasis. Even the pumpkin dessert we were just-in-time for tasted like it always has . . .creamy . . . cheesy. . .
When I had soaked in the past, and was thoroughly drenched with memories, I decided to load up and head home. The children kissed Auntie Wendy good bye and we rolled down the mountain in our warm car.
We passed by the houses of my old friends all lit up with LEDs and animated deer. The Christmas tunes mixed with my nostalgia making for a cocktail of emotion.
I missed the simple.
Tonight's trail of reflection is my blessing. I had a childhood worth missing. And realizing until I can successfully build a time machine, the best thing I can do on nights like this is give the children memories for their future yearning.
Bubbly lights, safe homes, pumpkin desserts.
It is a very good thing I asked Santa for a new toaster this year.
Four slots, too.