December 3rd

What’s Happening in your house?

Traditions! Family ! Christmas Spirit! That’s what it’s all about.

When I was growing up I remember the hustle and bustle of being in the Christmas pageant at Sunday School. Hours of rehearsals. Costumes the mom’s would make. Deciding who would be main characters and who would be the animals. Entrances and exists were practiced until you thought you would falldown. Carols being sung. Hoping they would select the songs you liked the best. Families all would come out for that special performance.  It was the one time of year when my father would attend church without protesting.  It seemed like the younger ones were the sheep than as you progressed in age you went from sheep, to angels, to important characters. The tall ones always ended up being the wisemen so they could be seen from afar as they made their entrance. I remember the year my mother made my angel costume. She wasn’t happy with just a circle of garland sitting on my head. Oh no! She had to make a head-piece that stood above my head for all to see. Oh how I hated that halo.  She attacked it to a piece of metal that hid behind my head and ran like a rod up straight. That was the year I got dubbed the angel with the tilted halo because I wouldn’t stand still. Although it was fun to go on Saturday’s and practice and be with friends. It was always a relief when it was over until next year.

From the first of December until Christmas mom would be baking everyday.  When you came home the house smelled s o good and you never knew what you would find. It was like being in a candy factory.

The kids may have had their pageant but the women’s circle and auxiliary had their bake offs.  They would do cooky exchanges and compare the best recipes for the year. All though everyone was nice and had great recipes my mom wasn’t about to be out done. She was known for her cooking and she would always prepare a fabulous bouquet of food. Knowing that color was important to present it well. That’s when she decided white divinity wasn’t good enough we had to have pink also. I thought she was going to use red food coloring but oh no not my mom. She bought a jar of maraschino cherries. Cut the cherries up and put in the divinity with just enough juice to turn them pink.  Wallah the birth of Eleanor’s pink divinity. Now there was a colorful plate. But her mistake was I loved maraschino cherries and she didn’t use them all. I couldn’t stay out of the jar in the frig door. Pretty soon there was nothing left but a jar of juice. Boy did that get me into trouble.

Mom would make divinity, fudge, penuche, peanut brittle, almond Roca, and anything else that her little heart desired. When she found a new recipe she had to try it. She would put together gifts of candy and cookies for gifts for neighbors and friends.

Then the cookies would start. We had to have sugar cookies, peanut butter cookies, dough balls, butter cookies, chocolate drop cookies, meringue cookies ( a puff of air but I loved them). Butterscotch cookies, lemon drop cookies, hay stacks and much more.

Pies for Christmas Day would be mincemeat, apple, and pumpkin. She’d hide them in the closet to keep them cold.

Never forget the fruit cakes and the saffron bread that was made every year. I can’t stand fruit cake to this day. I grew to like the saffron bread but I always picked out the candied fruit. Never did care for it. Mom would eat what I picked out because it was too expensive to waste.

Christmas Eve while last-minute wrappings and trimmings were being done out would come the famous dips and chips.

She would make her onion dip and her chili dip. She had a couple of others but usually she stuck with onion and chili. If we were lucky we’d have salami and crackers with cheese with the dip and chips. What a wonderful treat.

Mom loved buttermilk so there was always buttermilk, and eggnog at Christmas time. I didn’t like either so I usually ended up with hot cocoa.

If we were lucky mom would squeeze in her homemade donuts for a breakfast treat. She always cooked the donut holes and that was my favorite part.

We never helped much with the baking except for the cookies occasionally. She would try to do anything that involved boiling hot sugar during the day while we were still in school. The kitchen was small and she did everything possible to avoid accidents.

When my mother would see a good recipe in the newspaper she would cut it out and eventually try it on us. THe women also exchanged recipes when they had their cookie exchanges, so mom had hundreds of recipes which I now have.

Mom would ration the goodies to make sure we got a taste of everything but not enough to be sick. How she ever survived my sister is beyond me. My sister was a counter and she would count how much of everything before she left for school. That way she would know if mom had been into anything before our return. Talk about the kitchen police. It didn’t matter mom would do what she wanted anything it’s just the idea.

Mom would then find boxes to decorate and put goodies in for those that didn’t have goodies, if she couldn’t find a box she would cut one down and make it the way she wanted. There was no stopping her.

Then decorated and wrapped like a present my dad would drive her wherever she needed to go. That was her part in making people of that bit of homemade happiness.

I unfortunately don’t do that. Mom was a diabetic and it always bothered me in my later years that she wouldn’t leave the baking alone. She frequently ate things she shouldn’t. My sister also became a diabetic. Both were diagnosed after their 40’s. When my first son was born I baked cookies but he couldn’t stop eating them once he had one. I recognized all the signs. He was diagnosed with hypoglycemia in his teen years. I quit having goodies in the house when he was young.

Oh we do have an occasional cake, pie and cookies. However, I don’t make homemade candy at all it’s pure sugar. I avoid as much of the harmful foods as possible which isn’t easy.

I know how to bake them and sometimes I get the urge but then I remember the last year of mom’s life and it just isn’t worth the pain a diabetic goes through.

I have a sweet tooth like my mom and it’s just better to leave it all alone. I’m not as bad as I was as a child. Now I’d rather have salty things which is a no-no for me.

However, I am a firm believer in moderation. So as I leave you with todays Christmas traditions. Remember everyone deserves my sweetness. However, moderation goes along way. Enjoy that bite of fudge, piece of penuche, but leave some for the family.

Until tomorrow here’s to Sweetness, good food, sweet aromas, and holiday treats.


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