Sugar Cookies, homemade quilts and everyone snuggled in by the fireplace, including a sleepy cat or two.
(skip to the bottom for recipe)
This is how Christmas should be. And it is. At my house.
My love of all things Christmas did not come from being raised with a sister who was five years older than me, and willing to carefully unwrap every single gift under the tree. Before Christmas morning. While our parents were at those 1980’s parties that required big hair and a LOT of booze. I had to fake surprise long before I should have had to. Gifts skirted the tree often in a wide, three or four foot swath of colourful wrapping paper, and my mother made sure that every gift purchased was “expensive-looking-enough’. I learned early that gifts weren’t the reason for the season. Gifts caused a lot of grief.
What made me fall in love with Christmas was the food and the company. Oh. My. Goodness. The food. I grew up in a teeny-tiny village. We had a grocery store that stocked tangerines, nuts and pre-bagged bulk candy only during the Christmas season, and it was fucking magical. The smell of a tangerine still makes me wax nostalgic. My aunts would bring platters of sweets and savouries that we ONLY got during the Christmas season. They also brought my cousins. Growing up in a village of 500, your cousins were your playmates and best friends. Food and cousins. Christmas rocked.
Today, my kiddo is grown, and I miss the Christmas wonderful-wonder that children radiate throughout the holidays. I find myself surrounded by adults who bitch about the burden of Christmas, primarily the financial burden. I get it. I feel the pressure too, or rather, I observe it.
I’ve never really been about the show. It doesn’t turn me on. I do love giving gifts that I know people will use and love, but the best gifts were alway the ones that were handmade. Or the visits with friends and family that alway seemed to get put off until the holidays. Christmas is about connection.
When I sit down at my sewing machine, or spend the day in the kitchen preparing for Christmas, I feel connected to the best parts of my family.
Despite a very painful estranged relationship with my late mother, in the kitchen I remember the good parts. I make the same too-much-sage stuffing recipe with white bread, the same gravy, and tacky ambrosia salad. I try to make things that make my kiddo, and my sweety’s kiddo’s feel special.
I tend to bake the same old-fashioned squares that my Grandmother produced, and think of her when I pull out my sewing machine and blow the dust off that settled in from the Christmas before.
Christmas is all about connection for me. When I give a homemade piece of needlework, a quilt or homemade sweet treats, I’m not only giving you the gift, but I’m giving you my time. You were on my mind when I sewed, baked, iced, stitched or preserved it.
Every minute spent into the wee hours getting things ready for the people I admire and love is time spent in connection with my values. This is what Christmas is about. Connection.
If you are reading this and you are my friend, know that I only crave time with you. Latte at a crowded cafe? Yes please! Yoga pants and cheap plonk in your living room while the kids go wild? Yes please! Dual sewing machines going in my Christmas Craft space in the basement? Absolutely!
Connect. That’s what the season is about.
GREAT GRANNY’S CHRISTMAS COCONUT CHERRY BALLS
1/3 cup margarine
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups coconut
1 tbsp milk
graham wafer crumbs
Mix margarine, icing sugar, vanilla coconut and milk together. Chill until mixture is firm enough to roll into 2″ balls. Roll balls in wager crumbs. Make an indent in each ball with your thumb, and top each ball with 1/2 cherry. Seal in airtight container and refrigerate until ready to serve.