December 24: Favorite things: Heirlooms Advent with SusieJ

Using the heirlooms

Friends and I recently got to discussing whether we had "heirloom" or "theme" trees. Suze has an heirloom tree, Marsha has both: heirlooms on the main tree and a smaller, ginger-bread themed three upstairs; while my tree does double duty: enough heirloom ornaments to decorate in any one of multiple themes. Part of the joy of any holiday is using those once-a-year pieces we remember from childhood holidays. Even when our friends gently suggest we might want to downsize a few things.

My parents and grandparents are, as they say, no longer with us. Without them, I hold on to their things even harder; I am very much an out-of-sight, out-of-mind person. It gives me great pleasure to regularly use their practical items in my own kitchen. Grandma couldn't understand why I wanted to keep her kitchen canisters — "These are old! You could get new!" — but they remind me of her cakes and cookies, and showing me how to make Springerle. Plus, they are a sleek mid-20th Century design, and have become a great background for so many of the photos on the site.

Grandma's nine

At Christmas, Grandma would put out a big tin of mixed cookies, which I would cheerfully eat my way through (I was the only grandchild). She baked the same cookiesevery year: Aniplätzchen, Ausstecherle, chocolate chip, forgotten cookies, macaroons, S's, Springerle, Spritz, and vanilla wreaths.

Midrange shoot on a kitchen counter of three knives, a small cast-iron pan, a wooden cookie mold, and three canisters in the background.

The heirlooms I use every day (except one): my maternal grandmother's kitchen canisters and the "Snacks" tin that holds all purpose flour; my paternal grandmother's cast-iron pan; great-grandmother's Springerle mold; Mom's good paring knives.