When I was growing up we had dessert after most meals. My family are British by nationality (and heart, and spirit..) so it was referred to as ‘pudding’ even though most of the time it wasn’t actual pudding. Sometimes it was canned fruit in a bowl, but we still called it pudding. We had these little dessert bowls that I loved. There were small silver ones, kinda like this only more 80’s and less classy:
Those were pretty cool, but the REALLY special ones – and for some reason we only had 2 despite having 6 people in our family – were these long stemmed imitation crystal ones. Kinda like this, but again, less classy:
I don’t remember how it was decided who got what bowls every time, but I know I begged for the glass ones on numerous occasions. I thought they were SO fancy. It’s strange, but I think of those bowls often, and have it in the back of my mind that if I ever see any similar enough in a store, I will be taking them home with me because even the most boring dessert feels a little exciting in a fancy crystal bowl.
Though of course any dessert could be eaten in them, my pudding of choice was actual pudding (chocolate, of course). Sometimes I would help my mom mix it and pour it into bowls, leaving it to set while we ate dinner. Other times it would be made while we kids were off doing other things, and when one of us asked, “What’s for pudding?” my mom would bring out those little bowls full of pudding, always to my delight.
I loved pudding because it’s delicious, obviously, but also because my dad could carve a tunnel right through the pudding in his bowl, leaving the top untouched save for a small hole the size of his teaspoon. As a kid, this was magic to me. Digging a tunnel! In pudding! I am pretty sure I made him doing it every single time we ate pudding, and he obliged me every time.
At our house we had pudding tonight (Butterscotch Supreme – it’s not chocolate, but I’ll take it.) M helped me make it, pouring in the milk and stirring it up, and then licking the whisk and cleaning out the bowl by smearing his entire hand over it and the licking said hand clean.
When we were eating it after supper he dug a burrow in his that he was very proud of, and asked me to dig a burrow in mine. I obliged him.
It struck me in that moment that this is what childhood memories are made of. Little traditions, customs or routines that stick with you, long after you’ve grown. They’re moments that hold a certain warmth, ordinary memories that can generate feelings of extraordinary security and happiness deep within, that you carry with you in the back of your mind, only occasionally calling them to the forefront. They’re the stuff that you want to recreate for your own kids, things that though you may not be able to define why they were so special hold such a sacred place that you’re not ready to give them up. And often they’re indefinable – they’re special not because of what they are, but of what they represent.
Pudding was not just pudding, it was an opportunity for a tiny bit of magic and wonder. Those bowls were not just bowls – without me realizing it, they became vessels for memories. Memories of security, of love and of laughter.
I think nowadays we try to Pinterest ourselves into a frenzy, trying to make magic for our children, make things special – but sometimes the most extraordinary things are the most mundane, because it’s the love invested in the every day that makes us remember.