Friday, December 17, 2010

Merry Christmas: Pass the Cakes and Candies and Cookies Please!

This holiday season has been a very busy but exciting one. Kate has been learning about Santa Claus and Christmas trees and all the goodies that go along with the season at her preschool and she LOVES to point out all the snowmen and Santas she sees on TV or at the stores. Santa came to her school last week, and because he gave her candy and a book, she thinks that is all he brings. So, when I asked her what she wants Santa to bring, she says, "Book and candy." However, she has also requested a bee Pillow Pet.

We have been baking a lot this season and this year Kate has helped me. Her favorite part though is licking the batter or eating the sugar that falls on the table. I have ruined her! We have made fudge and peanut butter balls and chocolate cookies with peppermint kisses and peanut butter cookies with chocolate kisses and sugar cookies cut out and iced and a pumpkin roll. I think I have to bake excessively to instill a sense of Christmas in the house. Even though first thing in the morning we turn on the Christmas tree lights and move the star on our Countdown to Christmas calendar, there's something about creating special Christmas treats that only come once a year that really gets me in the spirit.

Tomorrow we will go to the mountain for the Mayes family Christmas, and all I can think about is eating Mema Jean's candies and Mom's red velvet cake. Now the cake is not a tradition. Actually, I think this will be the first time I have ever eaten Mom's red velvet cake, yet anything and everything my Mom bakes is delicious. But Mema Jean ALWAYS makes candy at Christmas and I am ALWAYS eager to help in the eating of them.

And so I am picking up on a theme here: Food. Perhaps that is what I most associate with Christmas. The strawberry cake my Mema Garner used to make and that my Mom now fixes every year; the tea rings my Mom labors over every year, which were a recipe from our dear friend Miss Mary Jane; the candies that my Mema Jean always makes.

Perhaps it isn't the food that I most love about Christmas but rather the people who have prepared them and who, after passing on, have also passed down their recipes to us. The memories of the strawberry and coconut cakes my Mema Garner would make and set out on the enclosed porch along with the myriad other desserts that I would sneak bites from when no adult was watching. Memories of eating Miss Mary Jane's tea ring on Christmas morning after opening presents and years later still enjoying them with my family though now prepared by my mother. Memories of making peanut butter balls with my Mema Jean and eating most of them myself.

Maybe that is why I have found myself baking a lot this holiday season: I want to reconnect with family members who are no longer with us or who I don't see as often as I should. I want to carry on the tradition of baking and enjoying holiday treats. But I also want to emulate my grandmothers and mother who are not only extraordinary cooks but true servants, and I want to teach my daughters the joy of preparing food to share with others. Those are some really big shoes to fill I know!

Merry Christmas!!

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