Growing up in Troy, Ala., I would wake on Christmas morning and run headlong toward the gleaming tree to see what was underneath it. There’s nothing like that magical anticipation, but my favorite memories of childhood Christmases somehow come back to the kitchen. Even then, the joy of putting a delicious meal on the table for my family seemed like one of the best Christmas presents I could give.
After we kids discovered what Santa brought, instead of playing with toys or trying on new outfits, I found myself in the kitchen. I begged Mother to let me help. What could I do? Set the table? Fill salt-and-pepper shakers? Would she show me how to make the turkey gravy? I loved the behind-the-scenes action! And I learned from an early age what it takes to create a special holiday meal for a family.
Those Christmas mornings were in the same kitchen where my Grandmother Gommy taught me how to make her yeast rolls with a recipe that was the origin of my bread company, Sister Schubert’s®. Oh, you should have seen my first efforts — flawed mounds that would never pass quality inspection at a Sister Schubert’s factory today! But my Grandmother Gommy always approved my earliest efforts. Her smiles of encouragement gave me confidence to take my very first pan of rolls out to a waiting family. I think that even then, she somehow knew I would continue the family baking tradition. Maybe it was her belief in me that ensured that’s what I ultimately I did, even taking her rolls to cooks across the country in the form of Sister Schubert’s Parker House Rolls.
During those early cooking lessons so long ago, I learned my grandmother’s recipe, sure. But the moments amid the flour and measuring cups, working side by side to make something wonderful, always seemed like they were about more than the rolls themselves: I learned I was good at something. I stood a little straighter, got less flour in my hair. Over time, I got better at making the little folds of dough into rolls, and they started looking better, too. And oh, the taste! That’s always been the same.
On Christmas, I think about those early cooking lessons in the kitchen of my childhood home and what made them special. In a bustling household, that’s when I got the one-on-one time with my mom or my grandmother that children crave. And as they taught me family recipes and shared their patient instruction, a different kind of Christmas magic happened. I discovered the joy of serving people that I loved the dishes they really enjoyed, and I learned that the camaraderie in the kitchen can extend to the dinner table.
I try to pass on the joy I felt in that kitchen by inviting my own children and grandchildren to help with holiday meals and by sharing my grandmother’s rolls with anyone who picks up a pan or two at the grocery. I hope people enjoy my bread’s homemade taste year-round, but knowing so many buy Sister Schubert’s rolls for Christmas gatherings makes the day all the more special for me. Wrapped inside bread baskets nationwide, these rolls represent my love for sharing delicious food. And during the holidays, they bring to my mind warm memories of cooking on Christmas mornings with my mom and Gommy, the cooks I hold most dear to my heart.
Wishing all my best to you and yours! Merry Christmas!