Pretty much everything I bake this time of year is from a recipe that I had when I was growing up.
Even the things that we didn't have every year are things that have been around for a while (like "Peanut Butter Blossoms" - the cookies with the Hershey's kisses in them - which other people made, but which weren't in Mom's standard repertoire).
So, as I was baking some cookies on Monday, I was reading an old recipe and going right along, minding my own business, because I've made a double batch (or three) of the same recipe every year for as long as I can remember.
In the middle of cracking eggs, though, I came upon a strange realization.
You see, when I was home over Thanksgiving weekend, my mom was telling me a story about how she was taught to "clean out" the last of the egg white inside an eggshell by swiping it with her finger. I was in the middle of making a pumpkin pie when she told me that, so I was very self conscious, kind of watching myself to see what I did - but I knew that the "test sample" would be tainted, because her story was so fresh on my mind.
On Monday, though, I was simply baking along, not really thinking about what I was doing as I cracked open an egg, dumped the contents into the bowl, then - without thinking about it at all - swiped my finger across the inside of the shell to remove the last glops of egg white.
The movement wasn't pre-meditated. It wasn't something that I was doing because I felt that I had to. It was simply an automatic action - something I've obviously been doing for ... well ... let's just say I probably learned to do it when I was learning to bake, so apparently I've been doing it for a very long time.
Every year, I spend literally hours in the kitchen baking at this time of year, and using the recipes to connect to the people and places that are no longer as close at hand as they used to be. I never knew that some of them were more "at hand" than I ever could have imagined.