Wednesday, December 25, 2013

December 25, 2013: The Sounds and Smells of Christmas

Mom and her famous wreaths
As I read people's Christmas posts and their words of fond holiday stories from years past, I'm reminded of the little things that rest in our happy memories. It really is the sights, sounds and smells of the season that linger.

My own personal treasure chest of memories may seem incidental to most, but these little bits of Christmas fill my heart with emotion each time I reflect...
  • The warmth of the stove on my three-year old back as I sat next to it, playing with my magnetic alphabet set. I was allowed to open one gift early on Christmas Eve. An act of charity as I was home bound with the Chicken Pox. We did not go to our grandparents that year. Mom cooked a turkey and our little family stayed home.
  • The sight of a three-wick candle burning brightly in the formal living room. The lights were dimmed with Elvis singing Christmas carols from vinyls in the background. Our record player was a large piece of furniture used to display our favorite holiday knick-knacks.
  • The chime of my Grandma Gib's clock, serving as a happy reminder to the grandkids of the golden hours; time for opening presents and time to eat Christmas dinner.
  • The strong smells that combined in our home every Christmas Day in the 1970's; the paint from my Paint-by-Numbers conjoined mid-air with the potent smell from my brothers' model glue activities.
  • The sweet aroma of my mother's baked holiday wreaths. She baked them in bulk for our neighbors and friends. Once cooled, she would carefully frost and decorate with an artist's precision. My brothers and I would stick our fingers in the frosting bowl for a lick when she wasn't looking.

The wreaths are still going strong. The picture below was taken this year. The recipe and story behind my mom's wreaths is below. Although I was unable to enjoy a bite this year, I can close my eyes and still remember the savory smell. Christmas tradition bliss.

(Story by Mary Wagner) "It was my mom & excellent cook, Marvel Pick, whose influence led to my almost 40 year tradition of Gramma Mary’s Christmas Wreath.  Growing up, my brothers & sisters feasted on Swedish Tea Ring (page 101 in Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book, 1950 edition).  So beloved, the tea ring had a round & silver plate used only for its serving.  In 1975, stumbling across a Christmas wreath recipe, I remembered Mom’s Swedish Tea Ring & the color photo with white icing & red berries for decoration accompanying the recipe.  If I must say so myself, it tastes pretty darn good!"




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