The Butter Papers

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When I was a child it never occured to me how precious a simple thing as a butter wrapper could be.  As I began to crumple one to toss it in the garbage one day, my mother’s voice halted me in my tracks.

“Ah, ah, ah, what are you doing with that? I need that, don’t throw it away. ”

Suddenly my knowledge of butter papers grew exponentially as I witnessed the many uses for them. Butter and margarine wrappers were used to grease the bread pans, to line a frying pan before the eggs were cracked into it and to butter the cookie sheets at Christmas time.

It wasn’t long before I learned to carefully fold those papers and set them in the fridge if they weren’t used right away. It also wasn’t long before I found myself calling out to younger siblings in the same way my mother had done to me.  I was a fast learner and carried the butter paper practise into my marriage where I stopped my then husband from tossing out the butter papers. He never did learn how precious they could be.

Many times I would wind up with a little stack of butter papers in my fridge. Working outside the house full time while running it pretty much singlehandedly left little time for baking. It was easier to buy our baked goods. Even now, living single, I don’t bake much or often.

Still, today I laid a butter paper aside on the counter.  Just in case.

Butter papers represent childhood memories of being in warm aromatic country kitchens where the women made the work of caring for their families look easy.  Butter papers remind me of my mother’s hands always working to take care of us.

It was easy to see why, later in life, my mother tired of cooking. Having so many children to tend to for so many years likely wore that desire out.  She was happy to have others cook for her and even wanted us to. And we did.

Some habits die hard. Even though I don’t use them anymore, I still fold and set aside the butter papers. I likely always will. Tossing them out seems wasteful but I know it is about more than that.  Tossing out the butter papers means saying goodbye to memories I will never make again, memories of fragrant Christmas baking fresh from the oven and sharing it all with family who loved being a family.

The butter papers will always trigger these memories in me, memories of simpler, slower times when what mattered could not be bought.

What triggers Christmas memories for you?

(C) Janni Styles

 

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24 thoughts on “The Butter Papers

  1. Lovely post! Wild strawberry picking is mine. When I was a kid I’d walk through the woods to the sea, picking wild strawberries with grandma. Of course they were probably covered in dog pee, but I didn’t think about that then. But any time someone mentions wild strawberries I remember the smell of summer in the woods.

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  2. What a lovely post Janni. Again your observation is so acute, the detail in the smallest ‘ detail’ so amazing. I also think smells trigger so many memories don’t they? I have the ornaments from when I was wee. And I really find them hard to hang because of the times and the people that are gone. We had so little really growing up, but it always seemed that we had plenty. Anyway That’s what triggers my memories x

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    • I hear you on the parallel of having so little but not even realizing it. Fragrances and aromas do trigger so many images and memories for us. Sometimes startlingly so. Christmas ornaments do it equally powerfully. Magical memories to be sure. Thank you for chiming in on this, Shehanne, love your share. ❤️❤️❤️

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  3. Great!…. I can see how the butter papers represent childhood memories and maybe remebrances of past days too. So better keep them “cool” and fresh so that they can remain alive and carry us back to all those good moments…
    By the way, your post made me think of Marcel Proust´s mega novel in seven books “À la recherche du temps perdu” (“In Search of Lost Time”). You can read in Wikipedia:
    “In In Search of Lost Time, Marcel Proust uses madeleines to contrast involuntary memory with voluntary memory. The latter designates memories retrieved by “intelligence,” that is, memories produced by putting conscious effort into remembering events, people, and places. Proust’s narrator laments that such memories are inevitably partial, and do not bear the “essence” of the past.
    The most famous instance of involuntary memory by Proust is known as the “episode of the madeleine”, as many memories are triggered when he ate a madeleine (little cake), and he somehow feels he is back in Combray, in his grandma´s house. 😉
    Thanks for the beautiful reading. Sending you much love, dear Janni. Aquileana 😀

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  4. A wonderful memory to have. Mine is not so much a a “Christmas memory”, but I remember making rosette cookies (usually in winter time). We would always end up calling grandma each year for the recipe. After she died, I would still find myself reaching for the phone & dialing her number (even letting it ring once) before remembering she was no longer with us — The memory still lives on.

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  5. This may be my favorite of all your posts, Janni. I can taste the buttery edges of your cookies. When I was a kid, we’d just pull down the wrapper to butter the cookie sheet and then put it back in the fridge. Cross-contamination apparently didn’t exist until at least 2001~

    My Christmas memories are brought on by certain decorations. The horns I bought with my sister Judy that we tooted around the Macy’s Christmas section and nearly got thrown out; the Snow Baby she bought for my son when she was dirt poor but needed to give him something (“I bounced a check to get that, you know,” she told me); the ugly one that was the first one she ever gave me that I hated until she died.

    oh dear. Sorry. Is it January yet?

    Happy Holidays, Janni. I do read, but don’t comment so much these days!

    Like

  6. A beautiful post for the holidays, Janni, as it is full of memories that you keep dear to your heart ❤ Thank you for sharing xx

    Liked by 1 person

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