Archive for December, 2013

It is a silent night for me tonight. The day was spent by attending my great Aunt Margie’s funeral. She was buried on the same date as her brother, my grandpa, who died a few years ago. Seems people in that family like to spend Christmas together. According to someone in the family Aunt Margie said she was ready to go onto the next realm. I hope she’s happy, dancing with her husband and spending the season with the many members of her family who entered that realm before her.

A Distant Memory by The Crooked Camera

When I returned home from the funeral I spend a half hour gathering my thoughts and went on to make preparations for the annual Christmas Cheer party I have for my family. I did some cooking and baking and preparation for the most festive entertainment event I have every year. I’m preparing new recipes and also some tried and true ones, the libations are stocked, and the old victrola is ready to play some of the old 78s that were listened to by generations before me. Christmas is a time of nostalgia, a time to remember Christmases past and to romanticize Christmases before our time.

The house still smells of the buns I baked this evening and I wish they were the buns my grandma used to make. Mine were made from store-bought frozen dough, thawed and baked. Delicious, but not the same as those made from scratch by Grandma Mabel. Some day I’ll make them as well as she did; I have the old recipe complete with instructions out of her head rather than precise measurements and sure-fire techniques. Oh, to have the time to perfect her wonderful buns.

I find myself remembering Christmases of my past on this silent night. Christmas Eve on Jackson Street with the great aunts and uncles on my dad’s side. Christmas mornings at Tug Lake with a roaring fire and presents galore. Grandpa Mike looking out his picture window, telling his grandchildren Santa’s sleigh had been sighted by the weather men at the local TV news station. Grandma Harriet with her glorious Christmas Day meal. Yes, Christmas is all about nostalgia for me. And every year I build upon the nostalgia of future years.

Via Google Images

Great Aunt Margie had a lot of Christmases under her belt. Ninety-five of them. Sharp as a tack until the day she died I wonder what she would think about at Christmas time. Did she reminisce about Christmases she spent as a child on her parents’ farm? Did she miss the years gone by, or did she embrace the holidays as they came?

On this silent night I think about the generations past and the generations to come. I also think about right now. That in a few hours my family will gather at my house for food, drink, and merriment. As we celebrate the season and ourselves we’ll also be creating memories. These are the memories I want when I’m ninety-six years old like my Great Aunt Margie.

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Cherry Poutons

Once upon a time I knew a woman who used to love hearing me describe the food I made.  When I would have company I would describe the meals in detail she said it made her mouth water just hearing about it.  I was under the impression she was one of those women who didn’t have much time to cook, what with kids and all their after-school activities and whatnot.  Seriously, her kids were involved in sports and music and any other kind of activity that would keep them occupied nonstop.  I felt kind of sorry for them, the kids, as it didn’t seem like they had any time to just play or hang out, much less eat some decent food.

I remember one year she told me about how she took some time with her youngest child who might have been about ten or twelve years old.  They made some Christmas cookies together.  She was surprised when her son told her that was the best thing about Christmas that year, making cookies.

Tonight I made a batch of cookies that took but an hour to mix, bake, drizzle, and clean up, doing the dishes by hand.  There is no reason to not make cookies, especially at Christmas time.  If you’ve got kids they can join in with the fun.  Or at least lick the bowl.  It takes no time at all.

I never had kids, but I do have Husby.  He stays clear of the kitchen when I’m doing my Christmas baking, but is always available to sample what I’ve made and loves the sweet morsels right out of the oven.  Tonight’s cookies were new.  When he looked at them he announced, “Cherry Poutons!”  The name was a spontaneous labeling of what he saw, no matter that it didn’t mean anything.  Except for the cherry part.  There were actually cherries involved, but neither of us knows where the “pouton” came from.  I don’t even know what the cookies are titled on the recipe, but forever more they’ll be referred to as Cherry Poutons.

Christmas baking makes memories.  Like the boy who will always remember that time he made cookies with his mom.  Like a new favorite that will be known as Cherry Poutons.  I hope the tradition of baking Christmas cookies never dies and that none of us are ever too busy to treat ourselves to the sweetness that comes with the season.

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Butter and Sugar

Christmas is coming.  Sooner than I think.  But I’m trying to maintain my cool and enjoy the minutes I’m taking in preparation.  Of course there are the gifts.  I’m pretty much decided on what I want to give people, some gifts which are already bought or made, others which are still on the list of things to make/buy.  I don’t have long, and the longer I wait the less options I have in case something goes horribly wrong.  You know, like if I can’t find what I’m looking for.  And that can happen easily with a person who doesn’t like to shop anyway.

Charlotte is all done with her shopping, at least I assume so.  She always seems so with it when it comes to Christmas.  I’m jealous of her organizational skills and every New Year’s Eve I vow to become more like her when it comes to getting things done.  But besides the gifts (of which I have most) my preparations aren’t anything to smirk at.  That is to say, things are moving along quite well.

I spent most of the day baking.  I like the baking part of Christmas.  And even though Husby is the one who does most of the cooking around this house, I’m the baker.  When it comes to entertaining I’m not only the baker, but I’m also the cook.  Every year Charlotte and I have a holiday gathering for our family.  She does hers on Christmas Eve morning every year.  I usually grab a weekend evening that’s available for everyone, which isn’t always easy considering the schedules of the eight of us.

But I digress.  Sugar, butter, and flour were my best friends today.  Christmas cookies are a must at my house.  Husby is always more than willing to sample the cookies, candies, and other delectable treats I make for us and for any entertaining we might do through the season.

I’m happy with what I accomplished today, even though it wasn’t nearly as much as I would have liked to do.  Those pesky household chores get pushed to the back burner when it comes to Christmastime but can’t be ignored completely.  Luckily I multi-tasked and got some laundry done in between cookie batches.

Now I just have to find some time for dusting.  Maybe tomorrow.

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I’ve been meaning to do all sorts of decorating for Christmas and the most I’ve done is light the tree.  Well, two trees actually.  We have a little fake tree in the parlor, right in front of the window that faces the street, and one in the rumpus room which is our main tree.  The fake parlor tree only has lights on it, no ornaments.  The rumpus room tree is the one Husby and I get to look at every day and night.  It’s usually pretty big, and putting lights on it can be challenging.  Right now it, like the parlor tree, only has lights on it.  I haven’t found the time to put on the dozens of ornaments and other embellishments like tinsel.

Pictures never do it justice, do they?

What could be more important than decking the halls this time of year?  Well, there’s this thing that I kind of like to do ~ provide the fun presents people will open on Christmas Day.  The Etsy sales are rolling in on a fairly regular basis these days, and I had to restock my inventory at the gift shop in town.  It’s pretty cool to know that my fun little crafty stuff is worthy of being Christmas presents.

Still, I really should get busy and get some presents for my own people, and decorate my house before Christmas Eve.  And that’s not to mention all the baking I have to do!

But when I think about it, if you’re going to be stressed out it might as well be over something totally worth it, like Christmas!

How are your preparations coming along?

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Charlotte, our mom and I have an annual tradition that takes place the weekend after the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Hey!  That’s today!

We’re heading out to the Landmark Center in St. Paul, MN for the 35th annual Old-Fashioned Holiday Bazaar.

The historic Landmark Center. There’s public ice skating right across the street too!

The Holiday Bazaar is two floors of handmade goodies and treasures you can’t find at your typical commercial stores.  It’s fun to shop with Mom and Charlotte because after we’ve gone through the entire affair we split up and buy stuff for each other.

Even without the Bazaar the Landmark Center is beautiful to look at.

Of course we’ll have a nice ladies’ lunch after our shopping.  Then, after I get home I’ll start decking the halls of my house.  The afternoon the the Landmark Bazaar has become the official beginning of the Christmas season for me.

Before the crowd arrives.



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