For Christmas this year, I sent my brother, Graham, and his family, a container of some of my most decadent fudges (all of which had either Grand Marnier, Kahlua, or Baileys), my best orange-honey syrup drenched Baklava, and other recipes designed to cause trauma to renal systems. I can’t remember if I included my famous Turbo-Rum Balls….I may actually have eaten them all before I packed their tin. Of course, if that were the case, there would be no way I’d remember it. Or anything else, for that matter.
When I was younger, and his kids were younger, I put a different kind of effort into material gift-giving for Graham’s family. But as time went on, I began to realize that none of the gifts I painstakingly wrapped in confetti would be memorable, or meaningful, or even frankly, needed. I ran out of ideas.
It has taken me 46 years to realize the perfect gift, but I’m happy to say I believe I’ve found it: My own crafted baked goods. I’m proud of my Baklava, my fudge, and my turbo-rum balls….all made with my own Madagascar-bean cured vanilla, local butter, and LOVE. So I wrapped them carefully in layers of wax paper, and pretty Christmas Tissue, placed them in a beautiful and festive shiny green tin container, wrapped that sucker in a bow that even Dame Martha would be proud of, and sent it with Grandma Jane as a Christmas treat for her visit with them in New Jersey.
When Grandma Jane came home, she did so bearing a gift from my brother that brought a tear to my eye.
Not only had he and his family sent another generous gift certificate for dinner at The Comus Inn, but this year he added THIS:
That’s right…his OWN home-made goodie! And there was no way he could possibly have known that I had used up all of my own home-made, aged vanilla when I made his gift, and must wait another 6 to 8 weeks for my new batch to ripen.
(See all the dirt-like specks of vanilla goodness giving off delicious, happy flavor to my bourbon base?! This has got to be one of the most wonderful things known to mankind. Seriously.)
I was so pleased with my brother’s thoughtfulness, I put both of our vanillas together for a kind of sappy, sentimental baker’s hug.
And after I did that, I placed Graham’s Vanilla proudly on the mantle of my baking area….the magical place where good things happen.
Every time I look at it, I have to smile.
It’s like The Gift of The Magi, only with less Magi, and more Graham. So it’s really like The Gift of The Graham.
I’m not sure what book that’s in…….
…but it’s a good one.