“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.