Spritz cookies, Russian Tea Cakes and Poviticia Bread. As I stand at the kitchen counter adorning my tree and flower shaped cookies with sprinkles and glittery sugars my mind travels back in time. I remember so clearly standing in my Gram’s wood-paneled kitchen, with orange and brown kitchen carpet beneath my feet. It was Christmas, and there was nothing better than sneaking Russian Tea Cakes from the special cookie plate hand delivered by Mrs. Mann from across the street.
She was an old Russian woman who spoke with a thick accent. Always dressed in a flower house dress, her long grey hair braided and pinned around hair like a crown. A babushka always topped her head to keep the wind from her ears, and because that’s what old Russian women wore back in the day. She smelled like cloves on the days I recall. There she came across the street and through the field to deliver her hand crafted cookies to our family.
The plate always overflowing with all sorts of sweet treats. Some were jam filled, others while tasty defied description for me, and there were the small powdered sugar mounds that always anchored the center of the plate. The Russian Tea Cakes. Yep! Those babies were mine!
Year after year I always looked forward to Mrs. Mann’s cookies, her deep old Russian accent and the stories she would share about the old country. It was there that she met a handsome American sailor who stole her heart during World War II. It was love that led her to this country years ago. Now she was old, widowed, and worn. All too soon, she was gone…passed on to eternity. My how quickly times passes.
More memories flood over me as I remember Poviticia bread. Gramps’s family immigrated from Croatia to America when he was just a tiny guy. With his family came the recipe for the Croatian nut bread that would be a holiday tradition in our families all of my life. Povitica bread took many long hours to make. Lots of mixing, kneading, and time to rise. Just like life itself. We spend our lives being mixed as ingredients (experiences) are added to our lives each and every day. Those ingredients are then mixed together and kneaded to be sure they are properly combined. Then like sweet bread, I rest and take time to consider what all of it means. I learn to rise to the challenges God puts before me, just like the bread rises from the yeast. Rise up, like Isaiah 60:1 says, “Rise up and shine, for your light has come. The shining-greatness of the Lord has risen upon you.” My light is the Savior of the World. It’s the warmth of the Lord’s overwhelming love that allows me to rise.
I finish decorating my pan of cookies, and find myself thinking about how much is lost over the generations. Somewhere in time families seem to stop sharing and reflecting on the old days. The path to sweet memories and special moments seem to have been replaced by finger swipes on glowing screens, rather than being embraced in a kitchen full of loving laughter. I still make some of the old recipes and yes, I still tell the old stories. Yet somewhere along the line I became too busy with life to spend a day making bread.
Busyness. Oh how the Enemy uses that stronghold against me. I know he uses it against generation after generation. Then it occurs to me that much like the disappearance of sweet stories from times past, and plates full of cultural…generational memories, the stories of Jesus also become easily lost if generations don’t take time to share them. Like cookies, my memories and stories feed my family. Gone are the days of families sharing stories of how Jesus healed the blind and brought the dead to life. Just like the story of me taking my first steps for my Gramps because he hid Oreo cookies in his sweater pocket to encourage me. If I don’t share it no one will and in a generation it will be lost.
I’m so thankful that the Bible was written down many, many generations ago. Because it is on paper, and has been passed down the generations, the stories remain present. However, unless we open the pages of the book, read, and share the stories, they remain gone from our lives. It is my heart’s desire that no one in my generation will miss the joy, excitement, and blessing that the stories about what Jesus did, continues to do, and will do are never lost. For that reason, like a good cookie, my Bible must be shared.
My God is a God for the generations. A God who grows sweeter with time, especially when I take time to mix, knead, and let those stories rise in my heart. When I take time to savor all of the sweet blessings Christ Jesus has heaped onto my life’s plate, I am reminded of all He has done for me. I think for New Years I’m going to take some time to make Poviticia Bread. It’s time to spend a day nurturing all that is sweet in my life. I hope that I can share it with you one day.
“For God so loved the world that He have His only begotten Son. That whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have ever lasting life.” John 3:16 That reality is sweeter than even the best cookie!