Saturday, November 7, 2009


You can always tell the beginning of the holiday season by the displays of candied cherries and blocks of mincemeat that you trip over when you walk into the grocery store the day after Halloween. What the hell is mincemeat anyway? It’s not little tiny cut up pieces of beef. It amazes me how anyone would think the words “mincemeat pie” would sound appetizing enough to eat. This blog is about holiday traditions – and eating mincemeat pie has never been a tradition in our house.

I noticed today on the holiday display at the grocery store the bags of Pepperidge Farm dressing – now that is a tradition in our house. It’s been my custom to mix the herb stuffing and the cornbread stuffing, and it has to be Pepperidge Farm. That’s what my mother used, so that’s what I have to use. Such a simple task is not so easy. Safeway has not only one type of herb stuffing, it has two – cubed and crumbs. However, the cornbread stuffing is nowhere to be found. That means it’s off to another store to find the cornbread. After forty years of preparing a holiday meal, it has occurred to me that everyone must have the same food traditions – five women grabbing for the last tube of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls is not a pretty sight.

The next tradition is to make green pepper jelly to give to neighbors and friends. It’s not really hard to make – a little time consuming perhaps – and husband does not like the smell of vinegar and peppers simmering, so I have to burn lots of candles and open all the windows. Then there is the task of finding the right jars. If I wait until after Thanksgiving, there are no jars to be found on the grocery shelves. My pepper jelly contains fresh jalapeno peppers – yum. However, one must be careful when taking out the seeds, because if one scrapes out the seeds with one’s fingers, and then scratches a delicate orifice such as an eye or ear (or wherever it may itch), one will truly suffer with a burning pain. I found this out the hard way – so I am armed now with gloves when cutting and slicing the jalapenos. My pepper jelly is fun to give – until I opened a friend’s refrigerator last year and there were two jars of it just sitting there from the last two holidays. Maybe it’s time to make fudge as a give away.

Our Christmas tree has the same type of lights that my parents used. As a matter of fact, I think I have 2 strings that adorned my mom & dad’s tree 30 years ago. This is why we have the fire extinguisher sitting in the living room on Christmas day. Preparation is the key to trimming the tree. First, put the Christmas carols on to get into the mood. Second, check the strings of lights to be sure the bulbs all light up. Third, fix myself an eggnog and rum. The size of the tree determines how many eggnogs & rum it’s going to take to decorate it. I always start stringing the lights from the top, or else I will have to get a designated driver to climb up the step stool. By the time the tree is finished, the eggnog has kicked in, and I really do not care that I have put all the red bulbs on one branch - and Bing Crosby begins to sound pretty good.

And finally, the obligatory Santa’s hat. I make my children wear their Santa hats while opening their stockings – so every year I have cute little pictures of the children in their Santa hats. My “children” are 28 and 33 – maybe it’s time to re-think that tradition.

So, whatever your traditions for the holidays are, enjoy them, make new ones, and be sure to buy the French Fried Onion Rings early.

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