What do I always say, my Sweet Little Baby Angels? Yes, yes, I know I always say, “To hell with anything unrefined,” and I know I always say, “There is one unbreakable rule in writing: Do whatever works.” But this is something else I always say. What is it?
Now, let’s not always see the same hands.
That’s right. “Everything is about writing.”
So I was talking to the effervescent Beth Johnson, who has been my friend even longer than Jane, and she said her kids are coming to visit, and they want to bake Christmas cookies. She says she told them, “You know you don’t have to spend half your visit baking.” And they said, “But it’s tradition!”
I asked her if she still made caramels. She and her sister used to make caramels and give them away. If that isn’t Christmas generosity, I don’t know what is. Mom adored those caramels. Beth said, “I was thinking about those. I think I still have the recipe.” All these years, not a Christmas goes by that Mom or I won’t say, “Remember those caramels Beth and her sister used to make?”, but she hasn’t been making them. Funny, that.
This year, I made fruitcake, which I usually do. My family (most of us) love fruitcake. I always make Springerle, because Charlie loves those. I’ve come to love them, too, even though they have anise on their bottoms. Whenever I make them, I think of the first time we had them. #1 Daughter decided to make them, because her Dad was always talking about them. I remember her climbing into the attic, holding the trays, because they have to “cure” for at least 12 hours before you bake them. She also made and painted marzipan fruit that year. An amazing girl.
I did not make bourbon balls this year. I used to make them. Mom and I could go through them like … well, like bourbon ball fanciers through bourbon balls. Now that Mom can’t eat, making bourbon balls would put me into an endless spiral of eating my weight in bourbon balls, gaining fifty pounds, then having to eat more bourbon balls in order to eat my weight in them. We got our bourbon ball recipe from the lady next door from where we lived in Louisville. She only had one arm, but she could made complicated dishes and candies, sew, and do anything she wanted to do.
So you see why Christmas baking is writing? Just look at all those stories attached to the cookery!
A WRITING PROMPT BASED ON MY POST: Write five stories attached to your Christmas (or winter holiday) cooking. Or lack of cooking.
Alicia Butcher EhrhardtDecember 11, 2017 at 9:34am
I never got enough Christmas cookies. My mother made baskets of them to give to her friends for Christmas, and we helped, but you had to sneak one out to get one.
When I baked with my kids, I made sure they each ended up with a basket of cookies for themselves.
I shouldn’t have been eating all that sugar (and raw cookie dough!), but the kids love doing it, and the last time they were all here, made an awful lot of decorated ones. They’d go through periods of making the cookies positively bizarre in their icing. And one year we made the Home Depot gingerbread house kit.
I think we all survived, and I wonder what will happen when and if THEY have kids.
Marian AllenDecember 12, 2017 at 5:03pm
Mom made divinity (which she called sea foam) for Christmas. I hated the stuff. I can’t remember any Christmas cookies I liked, although I was ALL ABOUT the peppermint sticks. lol
Our girls all love Christmas baking.
joeyDecember 16, 2017 at 8:06am
I didn’t have Divinity until I was 25. I was at a holiday party and a man held out the dish and it reminded me of my mother’s fruitlings, so I took a nibble, and then I took another one from the dish and proclaimed, “These are divine!” The man laughed and told me they’re called Divinity.
Re: Bourbon Balls — but have you splashed some bourbon on your vanilla ice cream? 😛
I always bake on Christmas. Cookies and challah, sometimes a bit of confection, but always bake 🙂 Indeed, many good memories and stories.
Marian AllenDecember 16, 2017 at 8:17am
I have not splashed bourbon on vanilla ice cream. Are you recommending it or warning against it? What are fruitlings? Are they like aplets and cotlets — Turkish Delight with fruit in?
joeyDecember 16, 2017 at 9:59am
Recommend the bourbon on ice cream, so recommend. Vanilla, butter pecan, praline pecan. Mmhm, totally recommend.
Fruitlings are this thing my mother makes at Christmas — it’s white chocolate and IDK what poured over minced dried fruits and nuts.
Marian AllenDecember 17, 2017 at 8:31am
That sounds WONDERFUL!
Dan AntionDecember 11, 2017 at 10:03am
Eating one’s own weight in Bourbon Balls might not be the wort thing…just sayin
Marian AllenDecember 12, 2017 at 5:08pm
I’m with ya there, Dan!
DeborahDecember 13, 2017 at 11:01am
They Christmas baking stories!! I love these. My Mom made candy cane cookies, and pies! Oh how I loved baking day. She would always, always, always rolled out the scraps, sprinkled them with cinnamon and sugar and baked em up for us kids to gobble up right after they came out of the oven.
I used to bake cookies for a neighborhood cookie exchange, but we stopped doing that when the kids got older. We used to give away most of those cookies for gifts to friends and family.
These days I usually bake or make one thing for Christmas to give away to a special few.
I haven’t made Bourbon Balls is a number of years. You’d have to roll me out the door if I ate my way through them. 🙂
Marian AllenDecember 13, 2017 at 2:59pm
Your mom’s baking day sounds wonderful! I like it that she made the scraps into special treats for you kids. 🙂 Your cookie exchanges sound like fun and are probably FULL of memories! Me, I’m about to get the fruitcake out of the refrigerator. I think it’s “aged” enough. Meaning: I want some!