“At Christmas, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ makes me cry in exactly the same places every time, even though I know it’s coming.”

Today is a grey day but still warmer than it should be. Last night my house was ablaze with Christmas lights. My neighbor from across the street called to say she loves the lights and can’t stop looking at them from her window. Most of the house has colored lights, but a giant white star sits atop the fence to the backyard and strands of white flow from the star. I love that star.

When I was a kid, we had turkey for  Christmas dinner. With it we had creamed onions, mashed potatoes, stuffing and another vegetable or two. Over time my mother changed the menu. We’d have some sort of a roast, fresh vegetables and always those mashed potatoes. We’d eat dinner in the dining room instead of the kitchen. First came the festive table cloth which changed from year to year. My mother and I would then set the table with her Christmas dishes. The centerpiece was made of boxwood and decorated with red balls and ribbons. The middle of the table groaned under the weight of all the dishes. We’d pass each dish and fill our plates. We’d compliment my mother on how delicious everything tasted. The mashed potatoes and gravy never had lumps. The vegetables were just right. It was every time a perfect feast.

I had been my mother’s sous chef for dinner and after dinner I was her cleaner upper. My mother would stay in the kitchen, dry the dishes and keep me company. We’d put on Christmas music. My mother loved the Carpenters Christmas, Frank Sinatra’s and Andy Williams. It was a treasured time for me. My mother and I chatted the whole time. Everyone else was in the living room, but they’d appear every now and then for some more desserts. The table was filled with choices: whoopie pies, cookies or candies, all made by my mother and me.

My mother made Christmas a joy. We all honor her by doing the same.

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13 Comments on ““At Christmas, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ makes me cry in exactly the same places every time, even though I know it’s coming.””

  1. Hedley Says:

    Andy Williams, not Perry Como…roll The Bear

    • Kat Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      My mother was a Perry fan too but didn’t have his Christmas album.

      • Hedley Says:

        We have an SD card in our music system that belts out all sorts of seasonal goodies, including two of our favorites this morning…2000 Miles by the Pretenders and Fairytale of New York by Kirstie and The Pogues

      • Kat Says:

        MDH,
        I’m playing Pandora or the TV seasonal songs while I work in the kitchen. I haven’t heard either song. I think I’ll have to play my Christmas file where they sit waiting to be heard.

  2. Richard Says:

    Waitin’ on the rain here … it’s comin’, but it’s takin’ its time gettin’ here. Meanwhile, it’s high humidity and grey skies – I can do without the high humidity.

    There are lights strung up at the leasing office here, and a few of the apartments have outdoor displays that are on the ‘smallish’ side. I don’t do decorations, so my door’s bare.

    Christmas dinner will always be a fond memory … I’m not sure whether I prefer it or Thanksgiving dinner more. One of the ‘new traditions’ my daughter has established is the Crawfish Jalapeño Popper, and I can’t imagine a holiday dinner now being complete without ’em. Same for the Stilton on the cheese platter. She has taken Christmas prep to a whole new level, and her house always looks great. The food is in such quantity that side dishes have to be on a card table in the room with the tree ‘cos all the main dishes are taking up the kitchen space.

    My daughter’s continuing the tradition of Christmas more in the spirit of what my Mom did rather than what we did when she was growing up, and I don’t see anything inappropriate in that at all.

    Whoopie pies? For Christmas? In N’Awlins they’re called ‘Moon Pies,’ and y’ always had one with a ‘Arra-See Cola’ (RC Cola) … as in ‘Gimme a moon pie an’ a Arra-see cola!’ … I never liked the yellow ones that were supposed to taste like bananas – they just tasted like wax.

    • Kat Says:

      Richard,
      Waiting for the rain here too as the sky is looking ominous. The humidity won’t be around here again until August.

      I love decorating my house inside and outside. I try to change it up inside every couple of years. My tree is filled with ornaments from my travels and a couple from Ghana circa 1970.

      I’d love that popper! I’m not a Stilton fan, but I do love cheese. I haven’t ever been at my sister’s for Christmas so it all will be new for me. I know Christmas Eve is the whole family dropping by and opening gifts from one another, eating lots of good foods and singing a few carols.

      We all continue my mother’s traditions which have now been handed down to my sister’s kids with a few new ones added. They are Christmas bugs just as we are and my mother was.

      If I remember, Moon Pies are hard, not soft like whoopies which are like round Devil Dogs: two cake pieces with a whipped middle and chocolate frosting on the top. At Christmas my sister adds crushed candy canes to the top.

      http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/WhoopiePieHistory.htm

  3. olof1 Says:

    Sunny and cold all day and the night will be even colder. It’ll turn already before the weekend again giving us up to almost F they predict. I would have preffered if it stayed this way for a while now even if I really don’t like scraping car windows in the early morning 🙂

    Christmas dinner is the christmas variation of smorgasbord and no christmas bord is complete without the ham, loads if different varieties of pickled herring, prince sausages, meatballs and all things that goes with it. Red cabbage is something I think we only eat at christmas and it is rather disgusting. I sometimes have it by mistake because it can look devlishly similar to beetroot salad 🙂

    when we’re so full we hardly can breathe it’s time for dessert, like apple pie with lots of custard or vanilla ice cream or in some cases whipped cream. We all swear to never eat again but then of course we’ll go to a relative already on Christmas day and eat just as much 🙂

    Have a great day!
    Christer.

    • Kat Says:

      Christer,
      We are still warmer than we should be. Right now the sky is looking dark like rain is coming. It is supposed to be in the 50’s most of the week.

      We sometimes had ham which is now popular for Christmas. The spiral ham is the favorite sort. It is glistening with honey and all sorts of herbs. Best of all is it makes great sandwiches after the big dinner.

      I cook my red cabbage for hours and hours, and it is quite tasty.

      Our desserts at Christmas tend to be Christmas cookies, a Yule log cake and candy. Pies tend to be for Thanksgiving.

      We never swear not to eat again as we know we’d never be able to keep that promise.

      Have a great evening!

      • olof1 Says:

        I normally love any kind of cabbage so I guess it has to do with spices because this cabbage taste nothing like cabbage, if it had I would have loved it 🙂

      • Kat Says:

        Christer,
        After cooking so long, it is scrumptious and has the best flavor.

    • Richard Says:

      Olof …
      I agree completely with you about scraping car windows. Do any automobile stores near you sell an aerosol de-icer called ‘HEET’ … ? I buy at least six cans at a time because all I need to do is spray it on the iced windshield and / or the doors / door locks (whatever’s frozen in), wait about five minutes, then use a wide fish-turner (preferably plastic) to toss off the slush.

      Do you add caraway seed to your red cabbage? I make it occasionally and add caraway seeds and apples to the pot. What is beetroot salad (I surmise it’s the root of the beet plant), and is it red in color or some other one? Is the root cooked or served ‘crunchy’ … ? I’m also curious about the ‘Prince’ sausages … are they a soft or hard sausage? I still buy cans of smoked herring occasionally – haven’t seen the pickled version. Is that something that’s not exported?

      • Kat Says:

        Richard,
        I do believe I added caraway seeds but not apples.

      • olof1 Says:

        Hi Richard!
        If it is a good product it’s most likely forbidden here 🙂 The ones we have are more or less crap I’m afraid. But I’ll see if I can fiund that one next time I go to town.

        I avoid red cabbage to be honest but I have eaten one with apples in it and that was better than any other I’ve tried.

        Beetroot salad is made from beet roots, the red ones are the normal ones but I’ve seen it made from yellow ones too but then it is impossible to not see the difference from red cabbage 🙂 The beetroot is boiled and vchopped into small squares and mixed with mayo, apples, red onion, mustard, salt and pepper and quark. It is a must to the meatballs, ham and sausages 🙂 The prince sausage is very similar to the frankfurters but half the size. We can buy them raw but usually we buyt them smoked and then we fry them.

        Pickled herring is rather big here in northern Europe, especially here in Sweden and we have so many different kinds that it’s stupid 🙂 I can’t stand it bthough. I think You can get it in any IKEA though.


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