Holiday Foods, Advent Calendar 2011, Christmas Memories

     Memories of ingredients being stirred in large bowls to make Fruitcake, dance in the recesses of my mind.   Baking fruitcake was an all day affair during the Christmas Holiday.  My first memory was at five years old watching my mother in the kitchen as she measured, poured, stirred, and baked the mystery cake that I knew nothing of.  What intrigued me the most about the ingredients were the colored cherries and fruits and nuts that she would mix into the rich, dark batter. Mom would pour rum in some bowls that were especially set aside for the adults.
      My favorite part after baking the individual cakes, was to wrap them and deliver them to our neighbors.  Through the years, I would hear people say how much fruitcake was not their favorite because it was hard and they did not prefer the taste.  My memory of my mother’s cake was moist and tasty and most favorable in my mind.      
     Every Christmas my mother would prepare  2 large pots of Seafood Gumbo and a large pot of rice. My mother was a natural hostess and entertainer and she would don me the “little” hostess.  I would take out the best china and silver; wash and dry preparing them for 10 to 20 guests that were invited for such a wonderful meal.

     I had the task of setting the table in its proper order.  I then would set out the h’orderves on trays and small pretzels and nuts in their appropriate bowls to be set out on the living room coffee and end tables.  Candles were lit, and center pieces in place.  Jazz music would be swaying in the background with an occasional Christmas tune.
    Guests would arrive…drinks and cocktails would be offered.  And being the “little” hostess would have the pleasure of serving and making sure,  each guest had their full.  Appetizer trays stayed replenished as lot’s of grown-up talk and laughter filled the room.  My father with his smoking jacket on, (even though he didn’t smoke) would ensure each guest had something to talk about, as his humor lit up the room.

     What wonderful memories of Christmas twirl in my mind knowing we shared good food for the soul.

Family Christmas Trees, Advent Calendar December 1, 2011

      I wish I had the opportunity to know what Christmas was like for my Ancestors.  When I decided to participate in the Advent Calendar Christmas prompts, I began looking through photo’s to see if I could find any with Christmas Trees.  This is the first photo I found, and was pleasantly surprised that it was a photo of my grandmother Agnes and her sister Zara, who you could vaguely see sitting on the couch to the right.  What a wonderful find.  
Agnes Cully Peters (Standing up)  & Zara Cully Brown
December  1957
Los Angeles, California
     The Christmas Holidays has always been one of my favorite times of the year.  When I was growing up in the 1970’s through 1980’s, my mother would alternate every other year with a fake tree or a fresh cut Christmas Tree.  I especially enjoyed the fresh cut one the best.  The smell of pine throughout the house always gave the home an outdoorsy feel.

      When we were very young my mother and father would wrap the tree with lights, and garland, then they would give my brother and I the honor to help decorate the tree. As we got older, it became a competitive game as to see who could put the most ornaments on, and in the right places.  My brother was much taller, so he tended to always get the top.

     When we had the whole tree decorated, my father would lift me up to put the star or angel on the top of the tree.  Then my brother would turn on the lights as the living room light went off.  What a beautiful sight!  The lights would blink off and on with various colors and the decorations would shimmer in the dark.  What beauty to behold!  

     Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, How lovely are your branches?    

     I would then pick up the “Three Wise Men” musical statue and turn the knob on the back as Silent Night played then I would join in with the tune and sing the song.