Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas cookies

Those who know and love me, realize that I have issues keeping Christmas presents from the recipient until, at least, December 24. I've been like this all my life. I love Christmas. Everything about the time between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve I love. The food, shopping, decorations and gift giving all send me into this season trance that I come out of on the first day of the new year. I don't get the "holidays are over" blues, I would just look at the calendar and count the days until my next paid holiday or vacation time. Yesterday I packed up my parents Christmas gift. They're simple, down to earth folks and really don't want or expect us to go over board (or even near the board for that matter). My parents are practical to a fault and we'll get into that later. A fine meal and some homemade cookies will really make my parents holiday.

This year, being unemployed, my mother wouldn't have accepted a "pricey" gift from us and would have insisted I take it back for a refund. We were raised knowing financial priorities. Pay your bills, buy food and save for a rainy day. My parents never had a credit card and the only things they ever financed were their cars and their home. To this day if they don't have the money for it they didn't need it that bad, this attitude taught us how to save and the value of a dollar. By no means are they cheap or stingy, they'd give you shirt off their back and over the years many a relative came knocking on their door looking for a loan that many times fell into default. My brother and I wanted for nothing growing up. For my high school graduation, a brand new 1984 Monte Carlo sat in the drive upon my return from 8 days in Hawaii. Now, does that sound like neglect? When my dad had heart surgery 13 years ago the bill that insurance didn't cover was $85,000.00. My mother had the money, she got writers cramp from signing what seemed like endless stacks of 25 and 50 dollar savings bonds purchased every 2 weeks for the last 30 years. This would qualify as a rainy day. A ham, 10 pound sack of potatoes and a fruit basket my brother and I delivered to the neighbors whose down syndrome child always seemed to be in the hospital taught us charity.

They're in their early 60's with a home that's been paid off for 21 years, 12 years early on a 40 year mortgage. Dad is retired from a job he held for 38 years and receives a tidy pension and social security, they are blessed and are living in comfort well within the means.

Celebrating Christmas with tons of gifts was not a priority, knowing why we celebrate was. The meal my mother prepared was on par with any fine restaurant. Turkey and ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, potato salad, mini (my mother broke them in half) corn on the cob, turkey gravy and ham gravy. If you've never heard of ham gravy you're really missing a treat. My mom cooks a whole, semi-boneless ham with crushed pineapple, (lots of) brown sugar, ginger ale and 2 tablespoons of mustard. This little bath, when cooked for 6 hours and is thickened, will create a deliciously sweet gravy. Anyway, mother would create a beautiful relish tray including black olives, hot cauliflower, pepper rings, horseradish and pickles all adorned with radish roses. Now if you could actually get up from the table for a few hours and take a nap, the deserts that awaited you was again on par with a downtown bakery window display. Lemon meringue, chocolate and butterscotch pies (with real whipping cream). A chocolate cake with homemade white icing decorated with red and green. Carrot cake with cream cheese icing tinted a light orange. Chocolate chip, oatmeal and decorated (by my brother & me) sugar cookies. And my most favorite cookie, my mothers kolachkies. This recipe was from her mother-in-law and even my grandmother loves my mothers version of the cookie. I've heard a lot of different people call kolachkies angel wings, these are not the same cookie. It's a butter and cream cheese dough rolled and cut into squares then filled (only 2 opposite corners brought to the center and pinched together) with red raspberry (my favorite), pineapple, peach and apricot preserves and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Light layers of cream cheese dough combined with the sweetness of the preserves is the best cookie on the tray.

Well I packed up my parents Christmas "gift" for delivery. Snowballs, chocolate chip, oatmeal and ricotta cheese cookies along with a Harry and David "Fruitcake Confection" since I was not making one this year. I make an awesome fruitcake. This will more than satisfy them and I'll hear about "buying" the fruitcake. A nice Christmas card a few strings of curling ribbon and you've got a beautiful gift fit for any simple, down to earth folks. Made with love from a daughter who was taught the real meaning of Christmas.


SkyePuppy said...

Your parents sound wonderful! Have a merry Christmas!!!

Christina said...

See...I knew you'd find plenty of ways to keep busy. My hat is tipped to you for all the (successful) baking and cooking you have done. It looks and sounds yummy.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family. May God bless you all!

janice said...

They're very good people Skye.

She prepared all that food for just 4 people, I don't think I put that in my post. My mother cooked and baked for days. Thanksgiving was the same way. No wonder I gained 10 pounds over the holidays when my mother used to host Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Merry Christmas and may our Lord bless you and your family.

janice said...

Oh Christina, you have no idea how busy I've been over the last week. I'm working harder now than when I had a job.

I was a stay at home mom until Christopher was 5 and went to school. I totally forgot how much work it is to run a home full-time even without a child to attend to. I tip my hat to all you homemakers who are raising the next generation of productive citizens.
Going to work for 8 hours was easy, running a home full-time is real work.

Merry Christmas and may our Lord bless you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Your folks sound like good, grounded people. You were blessed, as I'm sure you know.