While at the store the other day I bought a bag of tangerines, the ones called “Cuties”. Decided to have one and began to peel it. The fragrance reminded me of Christmases long ago.
It made me think of Christmas trees and real lead tinsel that was carefully put on the tree each year. It was gently removed and saved each year in it’s original, yellowing, red and white cardboard box by my Mom for the following year.
My brother and I would have preferred to fling handfuls at the tree. That was not to be however, not on my mother’s watch. She took tree decorating seriously. It’s the little things like this that make memories so special and so sad since she’s no longer here. The feeling, not felt in a long time, is suddenly surrounding you and you don’t want it to leave. But it does and you’re alone again and so much life has gone by.
My family was very big on following traditions begun as far back as my Great Grandmother could remember. We always had Senf Gherkins, red cabbage, fresh pork roast with cracklins, or ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potato casserole, vegetables like creamed kale or Brussels sprouts and rolls.
Dessert was pumpkin and mincemeat pies. Early on, my Great Grandmother made mincemeat with dried fruits, spices and beef and suet. I remember my dad comically rubbing his hands together and licking his lips, looking forward to it. When blindness took Gram’s gift of sight, the pie morphed into something akin to pecan pie with dried and candied fruit. I only had eyes for the pumpkin pie.
Even now when I see a pumpkin pie the memories well up and I’m taken back. The feeling is particularly strong when I make pumpkin pie. Since my family was small, we “adopted” and invited assorted souls who would have been alone on the holiday. I can see everyone at the big table in Gram’s walk-up in Chicago, all dressed up anticipating a wonderful dinner.
When it was time to drive home, my Aunt would make a picnic for my little bro and I to eat in the car. She always used Wonder Bread which we never got to eat at home, so a sammie of turkey and dressing on that magical squishy bread was a real treat!
To this day I don’t know how we stuffed more into ourselves after a huge dinner. Because every ounce of blood was in our stomachs as the food digested, our little brains would go into silly mode on the ride home where one could say anything and it was hysterical. Didn’t have to make sense.
I’d say “Orange” and peals of laughter. He countered with “Apple” and a gaggle of giggles. This nonsense went on until my father had enough and put the kabash (sp?) on it all. In all fairness, we had an hour and a half ride home so I imagine two little kids squealing gibberish and cracking up in the back seat might have put a strain on any adult.
I think it’s memories like this that prompted this year’s Christmas “card” email which I’m posting for YOU. Thank you for reading my blog. Here’s my wish for you this Christmas: