Sunday, December 24, 2006

Another doll for Betsy in 1953? Maybe it was the equivalent of lumps of coal for her mischief-making. The red flannel nightgowns were monogrammed, wonder who did that? Probably Deedo. And Paul has a look of pure ecstasy on his face. He was 3 when he found his electric train running under the tree. In addition to the dolls, there is a toy stove, complete with pots and pans, and a cupboard with dishes. That was considered quite a haul back then, even if Betsy didn't get any guns, at least, she's smiling (succumbing to the pressure to be more lady-like?).

Our stockings usually held fruits and nuts, chocolate and peppermint candy, and fireworks. I get a craving for tangerines at this time of year, which goes back to these Christmas stockings, I'm sure, one of the few things I can eat that our dogs don't want to share.

Mike brought home a box of chocolate covered cherries on Friday, but they have dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate, with peppermint cream filling. They are delectable. His favorite Christmas candy was the cream filled chocolate drops that used to be called N_____ Toes, not a politically correct name for them now, but it was the 50's in Mississippi. Seems there was a nut known by the same misnomer.

The choir has the morning off due to the late service tonight, so we're relaxing at home. I've got to make a run to Kroger sometime today to replenish my supply of tangerines and walnuts, which reminds me of something I wondered as I wandered the aisles of Walmart last week - whatever happened to all the Black Walnut trees we used to have in the South? My mother made a black walnut cake with caramel icing that was my favorite. Now all I ever see is English walnuts. Are they the same? Do they grow in Mississippi? Seems there were Black Walnut trees aplenty when I was a child. With the thick soft hull, they were hard to get to, then they had to dry out for a while, but well worth the wait.

Another Christmas treat we enjoyed was coconut in ambrosia, pies, cookies, and cakes. We bought the whole coconut which required Papaw's use of a sledge hammer to crack, so he always got to drink the milk from it. The meat was ground in a crank grinder that I still have. (There were several discs for this tool at one time, but I only have one. It works fine for cheese, however.)

Other homemade treats included hand-pulled taffy which couldn't be made unless it was real cold outside. We put it on the back porch to set, and unless it was cold, it didn't set right. Mother's specialty was divinity, no Christmas was complete without it.

Deedo also made the best peanut brittle I ever ate. Papaw raised a good crop of peanuts in his garden every year, so there was usually a supply of parched peanuts, or boiled peanuts, or peanut brittle, and not just at Christmas. I remember smelling boiling peanuts when getting off the school bus in the afternoons. Now that's a delight for a hungry school child! I stopped at the fruit stand on Old Fannin and bought a big bag of boiled peanuts on Friday. They were boiling them when I drove by and the aroma pulled me in like a magnet. Shoulda got tangerines while I was there.

Well, looks like I've unlocked one of those doors and the room was filled with lots of sweet treats and memories. I hope everybody has some good memories to recall of Christmases past.

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