Chapter 78 The Power of the Written Word

My favorite Christmas cookies from my grandmother’s recipe

I’ve been baking lately. One of my best friends since high school (and later my college roomate) hosts a cookie swap every December. A cookie swap is a small party where each guest brings a favorite baking recipe and the ingredients for it. We all take turns baking our recipes and visiting with each other. At the end of the day, each guest takes home one dozen each of the other guests’ recipes. Each of us gets to go home with a nice tray of cookies, fudge, and the like. Needless to say, Tom, Huck, and Thoughtful Husband love these goodies, so I attend the party each year.

On the appointed day, we all brought our recipe card files, cookbooks, or scraps of paper where we had our baking recipes jotted down. My friend Lori selected a recipe from her grandmother’s recipe box, which she’d brought along with her. “Look at all these handwritten cards!” she said. Some were dog-eared from use, a few were splattered with ingredients; all were written in a beautiful script. “The year after my grandmother died, I cried every time I saw her handwriting. Now, [a few years later] I am just so glad to have this. There’s something about her handwriting that conjures up her image every time I see it. It’s like a fingerprint.”

Lori is not a book collector, and I don’t think she sits up nights worrying about the imminent demise of the book like us booksellers. Still, she gets it — that the power of the written word has a visceral effect that cannot be duplicated in print or electronically.

It makes me think twice about keeping my own family recipes typed and in the computer rather than written on recipe cards.

It also gives me hope and makes me want to collect holographic items in addition to books. Hmm. Could this be the genesis of Catalogue #2? I better not even think about it until I complete Catalogue #1.

See you in the stacks!

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Filed under A Bookseller's Education, A Family Business

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