November 2014

NaBloPoMo (11/2014) – Day 15: Holiday Tradition

I admit it. I love holiday music. I always have. There was a time when I wouldn’t start listening to it until the day after Thanksgiving. I definitely will not listen to holiday music or purchase it before Halloween. That just annoys me.

But in the last few years, I’ve started listening in November. I try to wait as long as possible, but I definitely start listening before Thanksgiving. Part of the reason is that my grandmother loved Christmas music so much that she would start listening as soon as the radio stations went “All Holiday, All the Time” – and that started earlier and earlier each year. So, I got accustomed to listening to it earlier, too.

I held out as long as I could this year. But today I finally gave in. It’s 12 days before Thanksgiving, so I think I’ve waited long enough.

Part of the reason I like to listen to it is because it puts me in the right mood for all of the holidays coming up. You see, this was the time that my grandmother started getting ready for Christmas. The woman baked. And I mean…she baked. I can’t even remember how many kinds of cookies Gram would make every year. Butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies, chocolate wedding cookies, sesame seed cookies, kolaczki, biscotti…and that’s just what I can remember the names for. There were so many others.

Then she’d make fruitcake. Now, before you start snickering about holiday fruitcake, let me just tell you what my father said. To paraphrase, he said that there are jokes about fruitcakes – and most of them are true – but Gram’s fruitcake was no joke!

The day after Thanksgiving, Gram and my aunts (and my mom when she was living here) would make the fruitcake for Christmas. Once it was baked, it was wrapped in cheese cloth and doused in Southern Comfort…then wrapped really well. Over the weeks leading up to Christmas, the cake would get unwrapped and soaked in Southern Comfort again. This happened often. I remember one year, my mom and her two sisters sat at the kitchen table and went through a loaf of fruitcake. They were schnockered by the time they finished it.

The last time the family had fruitcake at Christmas was 2008. That was Gram’s last Christmas with us. After that, it just didn’t get made again. Very little of what Gram baked got made again.

Until now.

I’ve blogged about Gram’s pound cake. I’ve resurrected that. I’m pretty good at making her butter cookies. This year, I’m going to make those and her biscotti. I might try the chocolate wedding cookies if I have time. But the real test this year is going to be the fruitcake. My aunt and I are going to do it the weekend after Thanksgiving. It will be the first time in 6 years for my aunt…my first time ever. You see, I don’t eat fruitcake, so I never helped out with making it. But, darn it, I’m going to keep these traditions going for as long as I can.

Part of this tradition includes listening to Christmas music. There’s something about listening to Bing Crosby and Andy Williams and Rosemary Clooney and Charlotte Church and Andrea Boccelli and Lou Monte and…(well, you get the idea)…while baking that just makes it more fun and festive. It’s less of a chore.

It needs to be planned out. During the preparation and baking, the playlist needs to have a good combination of music. Both traditional and religious needs to be in the mix for me. But during clean up, it needs to all be upbeat – “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” “Dominic the Donkey,” “Mele Kalikimaka,” “Suzy Snowflake,” etc.

I have some religious songs that are favorites. One is “Mary, Did You Know?” I’ve known this song for many years and I’ve heard it sung by many artists. I think it’s a beautiful song. Today, I was introduced to a rendition sung by Pentatonix. It might just be my favorite.

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