You Know It’s Christmas When…

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You Know It’s Christmas When…

By Paula Deen

“You know it’s Christmas when . . .” I’m willing to bet that y’all could finish this sentence in your own way, and how you’d go about doing it is probably tied to some special memory. Maybe it’s the scent of pine that takes you back to traipsing through the woods, looking for the most beautiful Christmas tree. Or the sound of a cracklin’ fire that reminds you of a snowed-in Christmas morning. For me, it’s when I saw my Grandmother Paul’s Japanese Fruitcake hit the countertop that I knew Christmas was not very far off. Pretty soon we’d be helping Daddy hang the lights and sneaking pieces of Mama’s mouth-waterin’ homemade divinity.

Every December, I make Grandmother’s fruitcake and Mama’s divinity simply because I can’t imagine Christmas coming without it. Sure I wish to high Heaven that those women were right here in my kitchen baking alongside me, but if I close my eyes and take in the sweet tastes and smells of those special foods, I can almost believe they are. For a moment, I feel like a little girl again, underfoot and in their way, sneakin’ bits of batter from the mixing bowl.

My boys and I hold on tight to Christmas traditions like these, but we’ve also made new ones along the way. Y’all may know that I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so it won’t come as any surprise to hear that this season I invited my boys over to pull some homemade taffy. It was so much fun. Jamie brought my grandson, Jack, along and he had a ball, pulling and laughing to his heart’s content. Though I did have to fuss at Jamie and Bobby when their taffy tug o’ war started getting a little out of hand!

It was delicious, too. ‘Course it’s so easy to go out and buy taffy. You can go down on Savannah’s River Street and find all the saltwater taffy you can chew. But you can’t get the fellowship by going and buying store-bought taffy. That you find at home.

My boys weren’t always rushing into the kitchen to cook with me. I kind of forced ‘em into it. But you know, a wonderful thing happened—they grew up. We share the same passions now and I credit myself for making cooking together a fun and special time. ‘Cause if it isn’t fun, it’s work.

This Christmas season is the busiest time of the whole year. And all that decorating, shopping and traveling can really wear you down. But during all that hustle and bustle, don’t get so busy that you forget those fun family traditions that make Christmas meaningful—the same traditions that your children’s children will one day carry on.

Read More From Holidays and Entertaining.

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Reader Comments:


Regarding your Pumpkin Rum Pie, I think there is an error. It's after "Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temp to 300°." I tried the 300° and the pie was not baking. So I increased the temp to 350° and then it finished cooking. This is my observation, at least for my oven. I made the pie today and am expecting it to be a super tasting pie. Thanks for the recipe.

By Barb on December 05, 2011


Hello Paula, I have to say how much I love everything about you. I started collecting milk glass years ago and now it hard to find in my area. I am working on my own cookbook and I knew i loved you when i seen 2 recipes on your show that 2 friends would not give me thank you so much for sharing. I think it not good to sharing recipes...the best butter beans can come form anywhere...Happy New year Be blessed and keep up the good work love and best wishes for my plate to yours...

By Alesia Langley on January 05, 2011


Dear Mrs. Deen I watch your show here at 6:00 PM every day and love to watch you cook and then make your recipes for my family when they come. I am writing this to send you a website that was on the internet this morning which I must say has ruined my Christmas this year. I am sure you are not aware of these things told about in the article and I am equally sure that if you were you would be as appalled as I am. I watch you with your pets and know that you are an lover and respecter of animals and I am sure you will want to know about this. Needless to say I will not be eating these things again and I would hope that you would disassociate your good name from them also. Below is the URL. With love and much respect, Shirley Hodge Bangor, PA 18013 email:

By Shirley Hodge on December 18, 2010


Paula, I went to Sav. on Nov.11th to hopefully see you at your store or rest. You were in Wash. on that day,but your son Jamie was at your store and I wanted to let you know what a wonderful young gentleman he was. He was so sweet and allowed me to take his picture with me. It's on my all can see it! he is very handsome as well! I'm 65 and love your show. I have often said you had to have stolen my cookbook because you cook just like my Mother and a lot of her recipes. HOPE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY HAS A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! HAVE A BLESSED DAY! MARY HALL

By Mary Hall on December 16, 2010


Your taffy was and is so GOOOOOOOD it is sooooo mouth watering all my family loves it. we had a really fun time pulling the taffy it was so much fun, also we had a hard time fined the Glycerin but, was able to located it at hobby lobby here in louisville ky I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart it was so so gooooooooooooood thank you so much. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY

By Brenda on December 11, 2010

Hi Paula I love watching your programs. You are such a happy cheerful lady.Watching you always cheers me up THANKS I watched COOKIE EXCHANGE last night[Dec 7th] and you made a choc cookie that I did’nt get the recipe.I would really like to have it,as I love choc. You also made Grandma Paul’s Sand Tarts,which I got that recipe.So would you please send me the recipe for the choc cookies? THANKS Love ya Paua Merry Christmas and a Happy Blessed New Year

By Connie Gibson on December 09, 2010

I made your stuffing recipe you had on face book back before thankgiving, its the first time i made stuffing that was fit to eat. I alway had to throw it out. so thank you for the recipe.

                  p.s.  love you show and love you love for cooking and sharing it with us.

By sharon hilburn on December 07, 2010


By SUZAN MC on December 06, 2010

I recently bought your 3-ring notebook for storing my recipes.  It came with only 20 7” x 8.5” sheets, which hold two recipes per sheet.  I have need of about 100 more sheets for my recipes.  How can I get more?

By Bonnie Haugen on December 04, 2010

Paula, so great to see you with your sons and grandson!  What memories for that little boy to have with all of you.  Keep sharing all three boys with us!

By Shirley Riegel on December 04, 2010

Hi Paula,you are my favorite cook.I love watching you and your sons.And I love your recipes.My Christmas memories are when my sisters and their families and me and my family went home to Mom and Dad’s for Christmas Some really great memories.My Mom and Dad are both gone to be with the Lord.I miss them so much.Thank God for the wonderful memories.Now we are making new memories with our kids and two BEAUTIFUL PRECIOUS grandaughters. I want the autographed cookbook of yours so much.Keep cooking Paula

By Connie Gibson on December 04, 2010

i remember pulling taffy as a child with my brothers and mom…it was ‘’‘'hot’‘’‘’ but soooo fun…

By karline (kae) on December 04, 2010

I remember when we used to get together with my mom’s side of the family. We had so much fun with family and getting together and being with family. That is where I get my family gatherings memories and I like being with family very much.

By Donna Jaacks on December 04, 2010

My fondest memories of Christmas is My brother & me getting up early to see what Santa brought us…never touched anything until Mom & Daddy got up!! Daddy always cooked Breakfast…eggs, bacon, pancakes; he always warmed up the pancake syrup!!! Then after eating opening our presents!!! Then Daddy would be busy in the kitchen cooking Christmas dinner….Daddy always cooked the holiday meals…he was a great cook & loved every minuet of it! He always would watch everyone eat & enjoy the fruits of his labor! I do the same thing….love to cook & then watch everyone eat & enjoy the day!!

By Melanie Bushey on December 04, 2010

Hi Paula,
You brought back many wonderful memories to me with your mention of being underfoot with your Grandma in the kitchen.  I, too, spent many afternoons baking with my ‘Baci’ (Polish grandma) who lived just 6 houses up the street from me.  I learned at an early age how to measure in my palm, and that it was perfectly fine to have a ‘flour snow storm’ in my kitchen while I baked!  She is with me every time I use her old rolling pin and pie pans… and you are my inspiration!  I love how positive you are and strive to follow in your footsteps daily. Keep on keepin’ on!
Christmas wishes and delicious dishes to you and yours,
Sylvia Hanlon

By Sylvia Hanlon on December 04, 2010

Miss Paula Dean, you are looking very well and you have a beautiful family.  I am so very glad for you that life is full and seemingly beautiful.  Thanks for sharing the majic that you are and blessings to prolong happiness and prosperity!  Hugs and Kisses!!

By Doreen Madore on December 04, 2010

Merry Christmas, Paula.  Love your recipes and your Christmas cookbook..I got it last year. Thanks for the Taffy recipe…my brother in law loves taffy..gonna make some.  Hope it turns out good. This is my first try at it…wishing you and yours Happy Holidays.

By Judy Shelton on December 04, 2010

hi paula i just wanted to tell u I LOVE YR SHOW i never miss it when im having a bad day i watch u and when i see those faces u make as yr tatsting the goodies u make it makes me laugh so hard i hope to come to savannah an meet u happy holidays to you and yrs god bless u love colleen

By colleen callea on December 04, 2010

Thanks for sharing the great memories. We always use kitchen shears to cut taffy instead of a knife. It works great and the older kids can help.

By Karen on December 04, 2010

Hi Paula, all I can say is I love you and your family. You have accomplished so much and you can tell you relly enjoy it. I made homemade bread for 14 yrs. and sold it at our farmers market. I started havig trouble with my hands (carpel tunnel)and had to stop. That was really hard work but very rewarding. They are pretty bad now. I would love to come to Savannah some day and eat in your restaurant and meet you and your family. I have a gorgeous grandson now too he will be 3 in January and he has my heart.
I hope that you and yours have wonderful holidays. I will keep watching your shows and enjoying them.

By Nancy Smith on December 04, 2010

You are a GREAT and very smart woman. I watch everyone of your shows and hope you and your beautiful family have a very Merry Christmas!

By marsha on December 03, 2010

Happy Holidays to you Paula and to your family, especially to little Jack…he is so adorable.  I too am so blessed to have just become a Ginny (Grandma), as little Jack says….LOL.

The single best thing during Christmas besides the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is having our family and good friends around to share in the festives.

Lots of cooking and eating….lol :-D

By Ira Santa Maria on December 03, 2010

Fudge was Mother’s sweet. Oh the memories. Happy Christmas everyone. Love you Paula.

By ciaobello on December 03, 2010

I had a great aunt who didn’t cook or eat much but she made the best divinity. As least she called it that but I’ve never tasted any that was like that. It was white, flat little squares, peppermit flavored and crumbly and a little grainy, and SOOOOO good! I snitched some every chance I got! Does anybody know anything about divinity like that? I would love some but she has been gone about 40 years!

By Tammy C on December 03, 2010

Paula I love ur shows and articles. I to have a sweet tooth and enjoy the time spent in the kitchens over the holidays making candy. Choclate peanutbutter and rocky road fudge, bourbain balls, buckeyes, rock candy, and cream candy still pulled on the old marble slab. Those memories will be with me for the rest of my days.

By Derek bradley on December 03, 2010

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