Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas is Coming....

In my series, Weddings by C & C, there are couples and weddings...but there's also a strong sense of family. Family plays a huge part in our lives. Never is family more important and the sense of family stronger than at the Holidays.

And by family...I mean the ones we're born with and the ones we create. Family isn't by Blood. Family is made by the Heart.

May you and your family have the most magical, joyous Holidays.

CHRISTMAS MEMORIES

My strongest and earliest memories are of baking, people, and birthdays. I also recall a certain doll I pinned for and received in a doll bed when I was seven. And the first and only White Christmas I've ever known.

My birthday is 11 days before Christmas and my sole cousin on my paternal side is Christmas Eve. When our Grandfather lived, he made certain we December babies had our own gifts, our own birthday cake, and our own celebration with nothing to do with Christmas at all. I miss him and never more than at Christmas, when he would come to dinner, play with our toys, and tease my Northern born mother about her 'failure' to cook 'traditional' Southern style cornbread dressing. The year before he died, in fact what was only 3 weeks before we lost him, he told my mother, after twenty three years, she'd finally got the dressing 'right'. My mom beamed for days.

In our house, baking was king. The entire month of December was devoted to schedules of baking. My mom planned it better than any general in a military campaign. One Saturday was for cookies, another for candy, a third for pies, cakes, etc. We helped (or hindered) from my earliest recollections with the recipes passed down through several geberations of our family.

 
Christmas is for kids...of all ages and stages. My granddaughter and I read a Christmas book.

Like the Sugar Cookie recipe, where the cookies are colored and taste so light and like heaven (the green ones, for some reason, always tasted best). My great grandmother made this recipe and then stuffed the cookies with dates and figs. My mother divided the dough and made 4 colors.

And the Gingerbread...the Mexican Wedding cakes....the Candy Canes. Cookie factory USA (as we called Mom's house) made cookies by the dozens. 30, 40 or more... dozen. The kitchen would be filled with scents of butter and vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon, baked cookies cooling and the sounds of my Mom telling my Dad for the upteenth time to leave the cookies alone or there'd be none.

 

My childhood home was open to everyone and anyone from Christmas Eve to New year's day. As the founding family of the local volunteer EMT and fire station, my parents gave an open invitation to every firefighter, solider (we lived near a huge military base), policemen, hosp. workers, EMTs, any and all who had to work the holiday to enjoy the Christmas buffet dinner. It officially began at 1 and ended at midnight, but since schedules and emergencies happen, anyone who dropped in anytime left full of hot food. Anyone with no where else to go was invited to stay the day, and even the night, at my childhood home. My parents never turned anyone away.

As I grew up, married, and had my own children, we began our own traditions. Such as using those ancient recipes to bake cookies for the charity Christmas Eve and Christmas day dinner at the local church, open to everyone in the public who needed a meal. My kids learned Christmas is GIVING, not Getting, by making and delivering these treats for the dinner, by choosing an 'angel' from the angel tree and buying gifts, and by picking names of a sibling and buying a gift they'd really like. We have grilled cheese sandwiches and homemade tomato soup on Christmas Eve and always end the night reading The Nativity. And my daughter now continues these traditions with her daughter, who can't wait for Cookie Day.

Learning early, my granddaughter and daughter create the perfect chocolate creame pie filling.

In Dec. of 2010, a RARE event occurred. Around 2AM, snow began to fall. Now I live in the Blue Ridge and while snow (the southern version that is...which anyone from the south can tell you, our snow is NOT the fluffy fun stuff of Christmas cards and movies, it's white ice with a dull hue) is common in Jan-March, Christmas snow is a once in a lifetime event. It started to snow...and snow...and snow. All through the night, morning, afternoon, and next night until 2.5 feet lay piled on the ground. My first ever White Christmas.

A WHITE Christmas!!!!!


However you and yours celebrate the holiday season, I  wish you all the best. Please never forget Christmas is a celebration of a birth, of giving, of praying for peace, and even, in some cases, recalling those we love even as they drive us half out of our minds.

May you and your family have the Merriest and Most Wonderful Holiday season.