Keeping Grandma Alive | Metro Detroit Documentary Family Photographer

Chocolate Bittersweets.

That's the name of the cookies that my husband made with his mom every year for Christmas, until she passed away. (Read about the cookies, and my wonderful late mother-in-law here). If you asked our oldest, though, she would tell you that they are called, "The Cookies that Dada Used to Make with His Mama!" 

Although the name she's given them won't necessarily fit in the margin of our recipe book, I like it much better.

She has given them a name that is representative of the memory associated with them, not what they actually are. And frankly, the memory is what matters.


I imagine that for the next several years, our children won't fully grasp who their Grandma Dana was. I don't blame them, really. I've never met my mother-in-law, and I don't fully understand who she was. Thankfully, though, we have my husband and his family that help us know her.

And we have things like baking Chocolate Bittersweets. With traditions like that one, with memories and stories shared, and with photographs, we will be able to keep Grandma alive for them. <3


This was the first year that my husband had our girls help him bake these cookies. An act of bravery on his part, it was the highlight of their day and something our oldest is still talking about. 

As I stood to the side documenting this, I remembered all of the things my husband has shared with me that he loves and remembers from baking these with his mom. My heart swelled as I witnessed him do those same things with our girls...

 

He showed them how to do each thing before they tried it, mindful of their need and desire to learn...


How gentle he was as he helped them press their thumbs (or fingers, ha!), and the excitement he shared with them after they did it...


The times he paused and soaked up the moment with them...


That he asked our oldest to give the cream cheese filling her stamp of approval, just as his mom once did with him...


His desire for them to partake in every part, even the messy ones, because everything but the mess is what actually matters...


The beauty in this goes far beyond the creation of a new memory. Within this hour were foundational moments upon which the character of our daughters will be built. While baking with their dad, our girls were able to connect with their grandmother in a sense, as he passed on so much to them--tradition, memories, emotions that he also once felt. 

For now, our daughters simply have the association of a scrumptious cookie being something their dad made with his mama. But one day, they'll be old enough to understand the beautiful complexity of what baking the Chocolate Bittersweets actually is, and the impact doing so had on them.

Because that is exactly the place that their dad is in right now.