From Thanksgiving to Christmas was a very special time in our home. My sister and I would hope for the 1st major snow storm of the season that would sweep in from the west, with big white fluffy flakes as big as boxcars that would pile quickly, all so that we could hear – “No School for Peshtigo Schools” announced on the local radio station. It was also a time when the temperature would plummet to 30 below if not more for more than a fortnight and the river ice just outside the kitchen window would crack and echo off the limestone outcropping a mile way, much like a rifle shot in the middle of the night. The 3 tall Basswood trees in the yard stood as sentinels in the light of the full moon as we glimpsed neighbors’ lights off in the distance through frosted window panes.
One of the memories of the season as a early teen happened in our home every night after supper as the table was cleared and we started making, shaping, and baking Christmas cookies and making fudge. Baking each night for 12 nights we created different cookies and fudge; 12 dozen to be stored in the containers – each with an apple to keep them moist. Russian Teacups, Spritz, Almond Snow Cookies, Bourbon Balls, Brown Sugar Cookies, Oatmeal Cookies, Sour Crème Cookies, Chocolate Fudge with walnuts, and many more.
Each night as the cookies were baked; some would be deemed worthy of bakers only and used as special treats with a large glass of ice cold milk. By the end of the twelfth night, we had accumulated a mountain of cookies and then the boxing started. In each box would go a sampler of 6 cookies of each flavor with an apple wedge added and wrapped in the festive paper of the holiday.
With the wrapping and labeling now completed – the next step was to plan the route by mom. Mom made little to no distinction between the rich or less fortunate, except that the less fortunate were given an additional care package. Some of the folks mom knew and some were someone she had heard about whom were having a challenging year. That was her way of paying back for all the blessings the family received. Dad was a disabled vet and mom a secretary at a local department store.
We would awake bright early the Saturday just before Christmas Eve; eat heartily to add fuel to our inner furnace, bundle up to stay warm and head out to deliver cookies with my mother at the wheel. Extra blankets were placed in the car, and the boxes of cookies placed in the back seat as well as the trunk. Dad chose to stay home to keep the fires burning as we would not return until well after dark. As each package was delivered; old friendships were rekindled, stories told, coffee or tea offered and shared along with conversation about how blessed we all were to have friends like each other.
Do you have any favorite Holiday memories?