Annually, the first part of November finds me wandering down memory lane as I fumble through my untidy batch of recipes. You see, my recipes are not neatly filed away on my computer, nor are they alphabetized in a cute recipe box; they are an embarrassing hodgepodge of cards, scraps of paper, and even a few envelopes. Yet, finding my favorites for the holiday season is never difficult.

Some dishes are recognized by the handwriting of the person that jotted it down at my request. Others were scribbled on any notepad that was handy at the time; and I search for a certain color of paper. As I rummage through my jumbled collection of recipes, it causes me to recall people, places, and events from the past-and I like it that way. For me, my filing system is perfect!

Still, one recipe card stands out amongst all other. The handwriting has faded, the yellowed edges are bent, and it has amassed an array of smudges over the years. Oh, but it is far from being just another dog-eared recipe card; it’s a special keepsake from my Mother, who is now deceased. This year I realized just how faint her handwriting had become on the aging card and it was promptly placed in plastic for protection.

I’d not been gone from home long before asking Mother for her Pumpkin Bread recipe. It had been part of every holiday I could remember, not to mention being decadent and habit forming. The recipe originated with my Grandmother, who died before my birth, and was handed down to my Mother.

That ragged, old card has traveled with me from state to state, kitchen to kitchen, and has generated more loaves of pumpkin bread than I would dare to count. Many were devoured at family dinners, and countless others have been given as gifts after being embellished with holiday ribbons and bows.

I often feel my compilation of favorite recipes is akin to a roadmap of my adult life, beginning with the Pumpkin Bread recipe from my mother. Others were gathered along the way in different states and different cities; some were offered by old friends, some by new friends, and some by relatives. I find myself being grateful for each person that came into my life and shared a special dish, several of which are now part of my traditional holiday fare.

Most times the roadmap of my life has directed me down scenic boulevards or tranquil country roads, although I’ve had my share of bumps and detours along the way. Upon reflection, I’m more than thankful for the journey.and all those who touched my life along the way.

©2006 Kathleene S. Baker

Kathy and her husband, Jerry, reside in Plano, Texas with two fur kids named Shiloh and Hank. Their other children are grown and have given them 4 grands. Kathy, a freelancer, has contributed to newspapers, anthologies, magazines, and online ezines. Her first piece of work was inspired by Josey, a very special Miniature Schnauzer. She writes a weekly column for Frank Talk Magazine entitled "Heart of Texas." She is Editor for Starfish which is a daily inspirational column.