I was walking Benny last week and, while I was in the forest, I got a whiff of something that immediately brought me back to my childhood. I don’t know what it was or why it made me think about my time as a child, but it definitely made me stop in my tracks and smile.
It made me feel all warm and fuzzy.
As I walked home, it really made me think about why things that remind you of your past make you feel good.
In an article in Science America, the author of a study who let participants listen to sentimental song lyrics, this is what they found:
Tim Wildschut, one of the collaborators on the paper, notes there are many ways people elicit nostalgia—looking at photographs, cooking certain meals, sharing stories or playing music. He calls the feeling, which we naturally experience several times a week, “a psychological immune response that is triggered when you experience little bumps in the road.” So if you are feeling a bit discombobulated over the holidays, pull out a photo album and spend some time revisiting your past.
In another article in the New York Times, a psychologist was speaking to another colleague about memories that he was quietly recollecting about his childhood. The psychologist made an immediate diagnosis – he must be depressed. Why else would he be living in the past? Nostalgia had been considered a disorder ever since the term was coined (from the Greek ‘nostos’ and the accompanying pain, ‘algos’) by a 17th-century Swiss physician who connected soldiers’ mental and physical maladies to their longing to return home.
But the reality is, nostalgia has been shown to combat loneliness, boredom and anxiety. It makes people more generous to strangers and more tolerant of outsiders. Studies have shown that couples feel closer and look happier when they’re sharing nostalgic memories. On cold days, or in cold rooms, people use nostalgia to literally feel warmer.
So why is this important now?
Well, it’s midway through 2021 and we have just spent the past 15 months in a worldwide pandemic where we were forced to spend a lot of time alone.
Without the “busyness” in our lives, it forced us to rethink how we have spent our free time. Many people cleaned out closets (and found old photo albums to browse through). Some of us who couldn’t travel posted old photos of past trips. Even the act of making bread – a wonderful trend that emerged last spring – made us think about our grandmothers who toiled away in the kitchen.
Just seeing the photo of the recipe cards made me happy (it’s how my mom used to share all her recipes with her friends back in the day).
So here they are – in all their glory.
Funny that Great Grandma Laframboise (french for raspberry) didn’t sub in raspberries for the cherry juice and say, “look, this is my recipe now”. That was the beauty in sharing recipes so many years ago….if it’s not broken, don’t fix it 😉
Note: I didn’t have any maraschino cherries (and, hence, no maraschino cherry juice) so I used pomegranate juice which did NOT give me a pink hue (and also, did not give any added flavour)…my thought is that the juice was to simply add colour…and Kevin’s wife told me that she would colour it green for other holidays so I’m pretty sure my hunch is right!).
So, long story, if you’re feeling glum and need a bit of ‘warm fuzzies’ in your life, make up a batch of these. I’m sure you’ll be smiling in no time!!
Old Fashioned Pink Lady Squares
If you'd like a dose of old fashioned nostalgia, then you need to make these!!
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (you can sub in any crushed cookie)
- 1/2 cup butter, melted (you can use margarine)
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 cups shredded coconut (unsweetened or sweetened)
- 1 can (300mL) condensed milk
- 1/4 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 2 tbsp maraschino cherry juice see note
Preheat the oven to 325°F
Line an 8X8" square baking pan with parchment (this is optional but I like to do it as it makes cutting and lifting way easier); set aside.
In a small bowl, mix graham crumbs, melted butter, flour and brown sugar together and press down into prepared pan; bake for 10 minutes (will be puffed and golden); remove from oven and set aside,
In another bowl, mix together coconut and condensed milk and spread evenly over crust: bake for 30 minutes (edges will be brown).
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat 1/4 cup butter/margarine until light and fluffy. Beat in icing sugar and cherry juice and beat until combined.
Spread icing on cooled bars and refrigerate to harden. Cut into squares and serve!