Yesterday I bought a big bag of clementines at Harps. The mere sight of all that orange fruit piled in the produce aisle where sweet cherries lived during summer nudged me into Christmas. As I dumped them into a bowl on the kitchen island, I thought about holiday traditions and how I do certain things because somewhere buried in my holiday memories, we’ve always done it that way.
Back when I was a kid, Momma bought tangerines. (Clementines are a rather recent U.S. phenomenon, initially shipped over from Spain one year when the Florida citrus crop suffered a particularly bad year.) In my bowl, they smell just like Christmas on the farm, and they help fill the summer watermelon void.
It seems many of our family holiday traditions are rooted in food. Back in the day, Keiser Supply Company gave us a huge ham. That ham set the bar for all the ham I would ever eat again.
Momma filled a large wooden bowl with assorted nuts. She bought a coconut and a peppermint stick as big as yule log. It was Daddy’s job to crack the coconut and drain the milk into a cup for us to taste. It was also his job to chip away at the peppermint which lasted well into the new year.
When I was a kid, decorating the tree was always an all afternoon event that culminated when Staci and I ran to the middle of the front yard and cheered when Momma flipped on the multi-colored lights. Our tree filled the living room window and illuminated the shrubs below.
Now, each year it seems my tree gets smaller. Instead of a huge, glorious (expensive) Frasier fir, I buy a smaller tree. And I’m happy decorating with my collection of bottle brush trees which I’ve collected through the years. But my favorite is the small silver tinsel tree, my first tree when I was a baby.
He’s beginning to look a little tired, but hey, it happens. I suspect he’ll perk once I add a few vintage ornaments. Christmas decorations tend to lift the spirit.
Monday night, I watched Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Once again, I felt sorry about Rudolph’s nose and hated how the other kids (and adults) ostracized him for being different. Really, sometimes I think we’ve learned nothing.
Another holiday tradition for me… Christmas movies. My favorites are White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life—really, all the old black and white classics. And yes, Home Alone is a favorite, too. Occasionally I get sucked into the Hallmark movie hole, but they aren’t my favorite because they all the same—disillusioned, beautiful girl returns home to her small hometown which is decorated like the Enchanted Forest with not even a trash can to dirty up the sidewalk.
My favorite book to read at Christmas? Hands down, Little Women. I’ll watch any version of that movie, too.
Other holiday traditions?
Looking at Christmas lights, playing Christmas music, shopping at NorthPark in Dallas, baking cookies, hanging the stockings with care…
Over time, Christmas traditions change as family members pass away and children become adults. Some Christmas traditions fall by the wayside due to necessity. When that happens, memories become an important part of our holiday tradition.
Yes, I’m getting into the Christmas spirit. And a bag of clementines took me there.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.