Monthly Archives: December 2011

Christmas Memories #3- Gingerbread Men

I missed last Friday because I was moving the next day and my parents came into town. So I was distracted, now it’s Wednesday and I’m probably going to miss this Friday too. Sorry it’s Christmastime and moving time and I’m busy. So this post about Gingerbread Men will have to suffice for both Fridays.

Each year since I can remember my mother has made Gingerbread Men. The recipe she uses is one that has been in the family for years. It also includes a ton of flour, but has no exact measurement for it. You add the flour last and keep adding it until a wooden mixing spoon stands up it in the dough. Needless to say, in the days before the glorious, wonderful Kitchen Aid mixers this required a lot of elbow grease and arm strength.

Once Elise and I were old enough we would volunteer to help make these delectable cookies. Mom would stay in the kitchen until it was time to add the flour. Then she would suddenly remember she needed to wrap some presents, or she needed to “check the mail real quick” and mysteriously disappear until all the flour was added. As quickly as she disappeared she would reappear in time to help us roll out the dough and cookie cutter it.

My favorite part of making Gingerbread Men was decorating them with red hot candies. I guess traditionally those candies are called “Red Imperials” or something like that, but we always called them red hots. We’d each get a little plastic Tupperware cup full of the candies and would meticulously decorate each man with, at the very least, three buttons, two eyes and a nose.

Of course while baking you can’t help but sneak a taste here and there. One year Elise happened to take one too many tastes and Gingerbread was ruined for her for years. I think she had her first bite of Gingerbread again last year or something ridiculous.

Happy Holidays my friends! Have a fantastic time doing whatever it is you’re doing this season!

Christmas Memories #2: Presents & Being Psychic

Holy crap, it’s Friday! You’d think with my psychic abilities I would stay on top of this. What the crap is she talking about you may ask? Well read on and find out!

Presents are awesome. I love getting presents. I love giving presents. I love giving presents because getting people things they want is awesome. This can make the actual shopping a little difficult if I’m unsure of what to buy a certain person, but when I know them well and know what they like, oh man! I love giving them the package and watching their face as they open it; so great.

Like many families we have some traditions as far as presents go. Two spring quickly to mind; Christmas Eve night we are allowed to open one gift and each year we receive hot chocolate mix from “Santa” (aka Grandma and Grandpa). I look forward to that hot chocolate mix every year. When I was living at home mom had hot chocolate mix anyway so for awhile I had so much I didn’t have to buy any for years. In fact I think the first time I actually purchased hot chocolate mix was after I was married.

There was one year when I was convinced I was psychic because of an incident with a present. I don’t remember exactly what year this was but my cousin, aunt and uncle came to visit and had, of course, brought presents. They arrived at the house with the gifts already wrapped, giving no hints as to what we might be opening on Christmas day. I saw one wrapped up for me. I picked it up and shook it a little, not much rattling. I felt it a bit and wondered for a moment what it was. I looked at the tag and saw it was from my cousin James. Immediately the image of a makeup kit in a purple box with a black handle came into my head.

Feeling silly I put it back down. I don’t know why but I was absolutely convinced that it was a purple makeup kit wrapped in that paper. I could even envision the details of the box down to the logo on the corner of the front of the box. Because of how certain I was and because I did feel silly I didn’t tell anyone about my prediction for said gift.

Christmas day came and I was astounded to see that I was, in fact, correct. It was a gigantic makeup kit, in a purple box with a black handle complete with a logo emblazoned on the front. That is how one Christmas gift convinced me of my supernatural psychic abilities.

Christmas Memories #1: Trees

Looking back on my blog it seems things have gotten a little serious around here. A little less about reminiscing about growing up and more wallowing in the drudges of today. And I’m sorry to say that come January it could get a little more serious. So in an effort to get away from that for awhile at least, I present Christmas memories! The first being about trees! I was going to include some artwork, but the week got away from me.

November and December are the months when I get the most nostalgic. And also homesick for the desert. Being nostalgic and homesick always make me remember the traditions I grew up with. The first thing I usually think of when getting homesick during the holidays is the countless Thanksgivings spent with my aunt, uncle and cousin. But Thanksgiving has passed and this is called Christmas memories, so the next thing I think about is Christmas trees.

Every year since I can remember we would buy our Christmas tree at a nearby lot called Arnie’s. Arnie and his family were from Oregon so of course they had the best trees. We would arrive on the lot in the evening after my dad got home from work. Then we’d browse the rows and rows of evergreen trees looking for the perfect one. Eventually we started bringing chili and cornbread to Arnie and his family when we went to pick out tree. They usually had a small fire going in a pit and sometimes dad would sit there chatting with the men while we went to find a tree we wanted.

We’d watch as Arnie’s boys took our selection and trimmed the trunk for us. They sometimes helped dad strap it our roof then we’d take it home, shove it through the front door, spreading pine needles everywhere.

We had a special process for decorating the tree. There were about a gazillion ornaments to put on the tree, but there was a certain order you had to follow. Lights first, then the cranberry garland, then the little Coca Cola Santa boxes, then the apples, and then whatever we uncovered in the remaining twelve million boxes.

My sister and I would run out of steam pretty quickly, even with a steady stream of Christmasy goodness coming through the speakers and playing throughout the house. We’d stop and watch mom put a few ornaments on before taking it up again. I’m pretty sure there were a couple years when Elise just opted out and watched us do the whole thing.

Last to go on was the angels at the top. Angels, plural, is correct. My mom has four antique angel ornaments from her grandmother (my great grandmother) Eva. Those four surround the one that tops the tree which is a beautiful crocheted angel. I’m not sure where my mother got it, but I love it and all angels I’ve seen that are meant for tree toppers pale in comparison. The gorgeous simplicity of her crocheted angel makes all those gaudy doll looking angels seem as if they’re trying to hard. Since I can’t find an angel as good as my mom’s, I’ve settled for a sparkly silver star as my tree topper, when I get a tree that is.

After the angels had been properly placed, we’d sit back and admire our handiwork, usually sipping hot chocolate and eating gingerbread. I think what I’m most nostalgic for is that kind of simple happiness. The kind only a pretty tree can bring.