Care Packages From the Past

Posted May 4, 2015 by jimhigley


I’ve always felt my children drew some short straws when it came to knowing my parents. My mom passed away when I was a child and my dad – Grandpa – was gone when they were just little ones. So, for most of their lives – when they saw their friends making memories with grandparents – weekend trips, holidays, birthdays – or just seeing Grammy and Gramps cheering on the sidelines – my children only knew a big void.

As many children do.

So I learned to improvise and work a little harder to help my kids feel connected to the grandparents they didn’t know. After all, by connecting them to Grandma and Grandpa, I was connecting them to me because I was the generational link between all of them.

And I’m always looking for opportunities to connect with my children – no matter what their age.

One of my favorite ways to connect my children to my parents is through cooking. Both my mom and dad were cooks. Not chefs. Cooks. My mom polished her skills as the short-order chef in a house full of five boys. You could almost always find her in our undersized kitchen – wearing an apron and a smile. French toast on weekends. Monday meat loafs. And dozens and dozens of cookies in between.

My dad was the griller. The griller who loved marinades. So his process of grilling included several steps – a perfect reminder of his accounting degree. He was a meticulous man. Whether he was in the board room. Or carving the Thanksgiving turkey.

Simple memories. But memories I cherish.

I’m lucky because somehow I ended up with a bunch of my mom and dad’s recipe cards – many of them still having handwritten notes on them. Or food stains. All visible reminders that – once upon a time – these little cards were an important part of my parent’s world.

Today they are precious gifts to link my children to their family’s history. To the grandma and grandpa they never knew as well as their father’s own childhood.

So I pull them out religiously. Making Grandma’s coffee cake for a holiday breakfast. Or my dad’s chili on a cold Chicago weekend.

Because they warm our bodies. And they warm our souls.

Not just recipes. But care packages from the past.


TIP: If you don’t have the exact recipes used by loved ones – a little improvising works fine! Ask living relatives about favorites of some of your family members who are gone. Who knows, you might find out that Grandpa Smith LOVED apple pie. And with that wonderful knowledge, use your culinary creativity and find a new apple pie recipe to make for years to come – while making a connection for your children to their past!


This memory is part of a series of stories I’m sharing during the months of May and June – highlighting the importance of connecting with our children. These memories are brought to you by the wonderful folks at Kimberly-Clark who have compensated me for my writing. All opinions are my own. 

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