|Painting by Terry Redlin|
I only wish I could live there
As a young child, Christmas was always an exciting part of the year. While we did go to church and I did understand the true meaning of the day I found myself enjoying the anticipation, food, decorations, food and trips to visit family and friends, oh, and more food.
My mother was a very capable baker. She usually started Christmas preparations sometime in October by making a batch of fruit bread for the holidays and gifts. She would combine candied fruit, nuts and rum with her homemade, for lack of a better word, dough. She would put the ingredients in little tin bread pans. I can't remember if she baked them before she froze them or not. I suspect not because her sole reason for starting so early was to allow the rum to infuse itself with the other ingredients. Sometime after Thanksgiving, she would begin the process of deicing the cakes and baking them.
Being a baker mom couldn't help herself around the holidays. The kitchen was usually the warmest room in the house because the oven was going constantly. She would prepare and bake all kinds of cookies. Candies were one of her favorite things to make and she usually had two or three different ones. What she called butter horns, breads and something called a Christmas wreath were always welcome additions to our holiday food fair. I especially waited with baited breath for the Christmas wreath. It was bread like dough with candied fruit and nuts inside formed to look like a wreath and the inside edges were cut with a knife. Baked in the oven until golden brown and drizzled with homemade icing and I was pretty sure that I had died and gone to Heaven every single Christmas.
I can see the house in my mind, the kitchen lay out and mom kneading bread on the table as something bakes in the oven. I remember the smells and all the dirty pots and pans she had to clean after each round of baking but the thing I remember the most is the love of what she was doing. She spent so many hours working dough to make it just right. She put a lot of love in all that she did and I am truly sorry I didn't recognize that until after she passed away. One thing we never lacked during the holidays was goodies made by a woman who obviously enjoyed bringing joy to others.
I will head back down this lane later but for now, I hope all is well with you and yours.