Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Today's Update - 10 Dec 2014

Been putting some of our oldest VHS home movies and pictures on DVD for my hubby for Christmas.  Boy has it been bringing up the memories.

See the candy in the above picture?  For those that don't recognize it, it is the traditional Christmas ribbon candy.  I grew up thinking that this was a way beyond special treat.  My parents ... well to be quite truthful my parents grew up really, really poor.  My mother didn't have indoor plumbing until she was a teenager.  My father was raised by his grandparents for several years as my grandmother had to go out and work in an era when it was pretty much frowned upon. My parents married young and after my mother got pregnant with me my father joined the military.  Before my brother was born, so I would have two or three, I can remember sleeping on a cot in my parents' bedroom in an efficiency apartment in off-basing housing.  They used to celebrate having a few pennies left ... literally a few pennies ... at the end of the month after paying all the bills.  My folks had meat to eat a couple of times a month ... not week, but month.  So certain things were just special in a way that most people wouldn't find them today.  Christmas ribbon candy was that kind of special.

My mother and I still reminisce how Daddy would bring a box home at the beginning of December which signaled that Christmas time had really started.  Sometimes he was TDY during the holidays so Mom would buy the box but it wasn't quite the same. We savored that box of beautiful candy all month, just allowing ourselves nibbles here and there.  Memories.  These days I could buy enough ribbon candy to make Mom and I completely sick of the stuff but I don't.  You still need to treat some things special.  But every year under the tree she knows she'll find a box of ribbon candy and a barrel of Christmas hard candies. 

You ever heard the term Hard Candy Christmas?  Dolly Parton used it in one of her songs but what it really means is a very economically poor Christmas but somehow you still find the sweet things about it; the term dates back to the 1850s if you need yet another miscellaneous fact floating around in your head.  That's how my mother grew up ... dirt poor with a penny bag of hard candy at Christmas the only luxury they could afford.  Their Christmas was what was in their stocking ... some fancy nuts still in the shell, an apple (or orange if the crops had done exceptionally well), some Christmas hard candies, and some little something or other that was useful and practical yet beautiful even if it was a made over hand me down or handmade item.

More memories.  I was fairly sick as a child, slowly outgrowing the worst of it as I got older.  Last bad sick I took along those lines was when I was nineteen and I scared the crap out of the whole family, including my boyfriend who eventually became the man I am still married to.  Winter in Kentucky was really brutal for me and it was one of the factors that led my father to ask to be stationed here in Florida when I nine years old.  Most of my memories of Christmas are from a sofa or chair where I was wrapped in a quilt or my father's or grandfather's coat, watching my cousins go sugared-up crazy tearing from one end of the house to the other or watching them as they played outside in the cold weather and snow.  I've made exactly one snowman in my life.  I was eight and Daddy had come in for a short few days respite from his year-long TDY in Greenland. 

I remember one year, I must have been five or six, and December that year was cold and rainy.  Then came a day we went to the farm to help with hog butchering and I was sick again.  Granddaddy and Memaw and my parents ... all of the adults were really busy and had enlisted all the cousins to help as well, even those younger than me like my little brother.  I was stuck in the house and I remember being so lonesome.  All I could do was watch from the antique windows that were so old that they weren't plate glass but had the warble so that you could barely see anything clearly through them.  But then Granddaddy came into the house, big bear of a man who had worked harder than hard his whole life.  He stepped inside and started fussing.  "This child is in here and there's not a spark left in the fireplace.  Fotch them boys to bring in some wood!"  He turned to me and said, "Sister, Granddaddy'll get this fixed."

I remember him covering me with his coat, heavy and all warm and smelling of him.  Then I watched him build the fire back up and shoo the boys out of the house, telling them to stop running around like a herd of hogs, and I went to sleep staring at the flames.  I still don't know what he wore because I woke up still draped by his coat after it had gotten dark and the adults had retreated to the old kitchen for coffee and sandwiches.

I think half the reason for celebrating Christmas are the memories.  It seems that it is only this time of year that we take the time to stop and remember some things and truly appreciate the blessings we have received in this life ... even if it is the blessing of learning a lesson the hard way.

As a result of the movie and picture project I didn't get as much writing accomplished as I'd hoped but at least I didn't backslide.  (grin)

Zombies Aren't Real ... Are They?!

A Bunch of Wild Thyme

Up On Hartford Ridge

Mother Hen's Recipes

And today's youtubes are on meringues, a real favorite of mine.  They aren't just for topping a pie.  I love meringue cookies and over the years have found some really cool ways to make them.  Meringues give you a lot more creative scope than most people are aware.

Rainbow Meringue Cookies
(Note:  you can use whatever colors suit the time of year you are making them.)
Meringue Christmas Cookies
Chocolate Meringues
(Note:  oh my gosh, don't get me started.  Yummmmmm!)
Santa Hat Meringues


  1. I to remember that ribbon candy and the hard candy with a soft filling. Only time I got that was at Christmas. Only time I got walnuts to.

  2. Thank you for sharing your holiday memories Kathy. It helps us appreciate what we have when we are reminded how it was in the previous generation.
    Thanks for the stories, too. I am hopelessly hooked. :)

  3. Beautiful post, Kathy! Thank you for sharing.

  4. Up until I was almost 7, I would be sick, 100+ fevers, every Christmas. We found out it was a reaction to our live, eastern red juniper "cedar", tree. Our big family holiday was Thanksgiving. My older brothers were more often able to come home because it was easier for them to get leave then raither than Christmas.