Hello everyone and welcome back to Down Home Food. You may have noticed that I’ve been MIA for a couple of weeks. I’m having some health issues and could certainly use your prayers. I would greatly appreciate that. I also have family and friends with health issues that could also use your prayers. No need to list their names, God knows who they are.
I’ve been doing a lot or reminiscing over Christmases past, and thought I’d share some of my memories with you. I hope you will enjoy these memories of mine.
The Christmas Tree
When I was a little girl attending Rogersville City School in the 1950s and 1960s, the principal, Mr. Ben Cunningham, would always have a beautiful Christmas tree in the school cafeteria.
This was usually a cedar tree that Mr. Cunningham had gone and cut down himself. I remember seeing him once in the field across from Cherokee High School cutting a tree down before the high school was ever built.
As a little girl, the tree seemed enormous. As I would stand and stare at that tree, I know it was the most beautiful one (and the largest one) that I had ever seen.
What made that tree so special were the beautiful ornaments and those bubble lights. They were the first ones I’d ever seen.
I’ll never forget standing in awe of that glorious tree. How many more of you remember that tree?
The Red and White Record Player
When I was a little girl growing up here in town, my brother and I walked to and from school for the most part. School buses didn’t run inside town until I was in eighth grade (1963). As we walked to and from school, I guess we did our fair share of window shopping, especially around Christmas.
There used to be a furniture/hardware store in the building where Shepherd’s Boutique is now located. The store was Dobyn’s Taylor which was a branch of a Kingsport store.
I spotted this beautiful little red and white record player in the window that I so badly wanted for Christmas. I just knew if I wished hard enough, I was sure to be rewarded with that beautiful little record player. We walked by there many times, and I always stopped and took a look at my prize.
On Christmas morning I was so excited, for I just knew that record player was mine. Well low and behold, I opened all my gifts, and there was no record player in sight.
I guess that I got pretty upset, and probably started fussing. My mother told me to take a look around the room. I did, and there was my record player in a big recliner, unwrapped and complete with some of those little yellow children’s records.
Shame on me, and I should have known Santa would come through!
The Box of Cookies
When I was growing up, I would spend a lot of my days out of school with my Aunt Dot who at one time was living in Greeneville. She had some super nice neighbors with two very young kids. The kids were much younger than me, but I loved to go over and play with them.
One year at Christmas, I received a beautifully wrapped little shoe box full of cookies this lady had made with a cookie press. I was so surprised and so impressed with those cookies. It was an unexpected gift. I would eventually buy my own cookie press. I would also go on to give many tins and boxes of cookies and candies for Christmas gifts myself after being inspired by that childhood gift.
Moral of the story is that no matter how small the gift, you never know what the lasting impression will be!
The Christmas Pigs?
When I was growing up here in town in the 50s and 60s, there weren’t many Christmas decorations for many years.
I’m guessing it was around 1960, when the town finally purchased some fairly large decorations that hung high on the telephone poles. There were several designs, and one was supposed to be a snowman, but more closely resembled a pig.
I still think we were the only town with a Christmas pig. Who else remembers this?
Who Shot Santa?
When my brother and I along with our cousins grew up here in town, Christmas was a very exciting time to say the least.
My brother Bobby is almost four years older than me, and our cousin Paul Davis is only a year younger than Bobby. They were very good friends, and still are today. They enjoyed many of the same activities such as playing cowboys, riding bikes, and fishing.
They often went fishing with our Uncle Bill Lawson. On this particular day, they had spent the night with Uncle Bill, and he was taking them fishing the next day.
It was near Christmas, and I guess all they had on their minds was what they wanted Santa to bring them for Christmas. They were outside about to leave for their fishing trip as they both kept talking about what they wanted for Christmas.
About this time, Uncle Bill who had no children and wasn’t known to have a great deal of patience with kids, said, “Boys, I hate to tell you, but there’s not going to be any Christmas this year. You see, Hopalong Cassidy shot Santa Claus.”
My brother still tells me this story today about how sad they were thinking their greatest Western hero had shot Santa Claus!
Uncle Bill was probably giggling under his breath. I don’t think he ever told them any different.
For your enjoyment today are some of my favorite holiday treats for Santa.
As always, enjoy and Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Combine and blend well:
2 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
2 sticks melted butter or margarine
1 box powdered sugar
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
½ cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
Roll mixture into small balls. If mixture seems too dry, add a small amount of evaporated milk.
To dip balls melt over hot water;
1 large package milk chocolate chips
1/4 of a 1/4 lb. Bar of paraffin.
Dip balls in this mixture, place on wax paper to harden. These may be frozen.
Chocolate Covered Cherries and Coconut Mounds
Make fondant by combining:
1 stick melted margarine
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Stir in and blend until smooth 2 boxes confectioners sugar and a pinch of salt.
Divide mixture and add to half, 1 can flaked coconut.
Chill both portions until firm enough to handle easily.
Drain well, 1 small bottle maraschino cherries.
Form small portions of plain mixture around each cherry, shaping into a ball. Roll coconut mixture into balls. Chill until firm.
Melt together over hot water;
2 packages chocolate chips
3/4 bar paraffin, shaved
Dip candies into chocolate, place on wax paper to harden.
Candy Cane Cookies
3-3/4 cups plain all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/3 cups shortening
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
Red food coloring
Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Work shortening in another bowl until creamy. Add sugar to shortening and beat until well blended. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with milk and vanilla to creamed mixture. Divide dough in half. Add red food coloring to half the dough. Chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough back and forth with hands on a floured board and form strips 5 to 6 inches long. Place red and white strip together and twist. Pinch ends together. Form into shape of a candy cane and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes.
NOTE: This recipe was given to be over forty years by a neighbor and friend, Carol Rogers Walker. My kids always loved these. It’s such a pretty cookie.
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
3/4 cup margarine or butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup finely cut, pitted dates
1/3 cup red or green maraschino cherries–finely chopped
2-2/3 cups cornflakes, crushed to ½ cups
15 red or green maraschino cherries–cut into quarters
In large mixing bowl, beat margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, beat well. Stir in milk and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until well combined. Stir in nuts, dates and chopped cherries. Portion dough, using level measuring tablespoon. Shape into balls. Roll in crushed cornflakes. Place about 2 inches apart on greased baking pan. Top each with cherry quarter. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.
NOTE: This recipe originally came on a box of corn flakes. It’s a good Christmas cookie.
(PUB. NOTE: Elizabeth loves to hear from readers who have food-related stories or recipes to share. Contact her by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.)