Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Smells of Christmas Traditions!

Gary Sandy, as Scrooge
Four days until Christmas and the smells from kitchen continue to conjure memories of Christmas past. 
(Not to be confused with the Ghost of Christmas Past!- I was just in “A Christmas Carol Live Radio Drama” with Gary Sandy, from WKRP in Cincinnati, and he played Scrooge. And I finished my NaNoWriMo novel. So I’ve been busy, even though I haven’t been blogging)

The Christmas season comes but once a year , and in that single month we cram so much: holiday activities; decorating; shopping; singing; wrapping; visiting; partying;  ……you name it, we try to do it. Sometimes in all that hustle and bustle of trying to “find” Christmas, we can actually lose it. 

Scottish Shortbread

Two completely different factors need to be present for me to create the feeling of Christmas in my home....
1) church services through the Advent season. 

2) baking (I know…..very different)! 

In all fairness to me, depending where we lived influenced what type of church service we’d hear or participate with to some extent. 

Gingerbread Houses

And, climates, Christmas activities, and local traditions are very different in the various places I’ve lived-- England, Philippines, Cyprus, Italy, Sardegna, Spain, Hawaii, California, Florida, Maine, etc., etc…..  But one thing that was always constant was our holiday baking traditions-- as a child, an adult, and parent.

The kitchen was always the place to hang out during the holiday season from Thanksgiving through the New Year.  Special Christmas cookies – such as Linzer Tarts; Candy Canes; Peanut Blossoms; Sugar Cut-outs, Lebkuchen; Meringues; Chocolate Kringles; and, many others were baked early and placed in the freezer so that I could give as gifts. 

Gingerbread Houses were made by the dozens, decorated, and then given as gifts to friends. 

Pumpkin Bread is one of my favorites to bake and give away. 

Mini Pumpkin Bread Loaves 

And, of course it wouldn’t the holiday season without Fudge! Long before I ever made it myself, I would help either Mom or Dad as they tested the sugary mixture making sure it reached the perfect temperature on the stove so that it would harden as it cooled.  They must have taught me well, because I’ve never made a batch that wasn’t perfect! (smiles!)

Advent Calendar
filled with bones.

A tradition that my younger daughter started over ten years ago is the baking of doggie bones and giving them to our canine friends of friends!  Made from freshly crushed peanuts, they smell heavenly baking and cause our favorite paw-friend to wait patiently at the entrance to the kitchen for them to cool.

One of the greatest joys that I get during the Christmas week is filling beautiful baskets with baked goods and jams and delivering to friends.  Each year the baskets hold different items, but the intent is always the same—I want to share with them something that brings such joy to me.

                                                                                            Merry Christmas! 

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