Traditionally Traditional

As far back as I can remember, Christmas time filled the house with the scents of holiday baking – cookies, squares and loaves of all sorts, my grandmother’s famous (at least in our family) sugar pie, tourtière; a fabulously traditional French Canadian specialty; Christmas ‘Ragout’; another wonderful French dish made with the tender meat from pig’s feet, and succulent meat balls, in a deliciously rich gravy sauce; sucre à la crème; a delectable sweet treat reminiscent to maple fudge, but even better!   …Oh, and my absolute favorite, Almond Florentine…super simple, yet addictive bars made with graham crackers, slivered almonds, butter and brown sugar.

My grandmother can no longer see, and so the tradition has passed down to my mother in the past years…but I believe it’s about time to take it on in my own household!  My cousin yesterday, mentioned he would start the tradition this year, and he has inspired me to do the same.

Not only will they make my home smell of my childhood – but perhaps they might entice the elusive Spirit of Christmas to find me once again.

I do believe that with very limited funds this year, and an unconditional love between my apron and I, I may bestow the fruit of my labor as Christmas presents to family and friends.  There isn’t anything in the world like a present made with one’s own hands, that truly comes from the heart.  

Also, in years to come (because I’m really running short on time this year), I may be able to turn my love of the wooden spoon into something of a little side ‘job’ during the holidays – in today’s busy world, many people would love to have the goodness of home baked goods, without the floury mess and hours in the kitchen!  A little bit of enterprising imagination may just work wonderfully for a homesteader-in-training!



Where Are You Christmas? …a re-post

I wrote this post a few years ago…Christmas 2012, on my old blog.  But in light of my complete and utter lack of spirit of the season this year – more so than other years it seems – I thought it appropriate to re-post instead of re-writing the same words in a different order.


A memory of so long ago; a warm smile, soft rainbow illumination and the smell of cookies warm from the oven.  Mounds of silver tinsel that you find in the weirdest places, twisting every light on the string to find the culprit bulb that’s keeping half the string in darkness.  Bits of red and green ribbon curled up on the floor, with empty rolls of yellow tinted tape… over-sized glass ornaments with faded images of the virgin mother and her babe.  Dusty figurines forming the nativity scene underneath the lowest color-coded branches, and anticipation of a 5-year old living in a magical world full of wonder and imagination; of elves and Santa and reindeer that can fly.

Big family gatherings, and a big midnight feast as is common in the French Canadian community…. a “réveillon”, with turkey and mashed potatoes with all the fixings, and all those yummy home-made deserts that grandma only makes at Christmas time.  Uncles and Aunts that tend to forget your name for 364 days, suddenly remember you exist and shower you with gifts you’ll never use, but you don’t care, you’re just excited – as only children get –  by the infinite pile of presents and attention; however brief and fake; bestowed upon you.  And then you fall asleep curled up by the Christmas tree, surrounded by a mountain of torn wrapping paper of red and green and white, with bows stuck to your hair and your new doll tucked under your arm…  Memories of joy and the childish reality of Christmas.

And then we grow up….and realize what a mess we’ve made of Christmas.  When did it become about how much you can spend?  About what new bit of unaffordable technology you can stuff in an overpriced stocking bought at Hallmark?  About the piles of scratch tickets stuffed inside generic cards with your barely legible name scrawled at the bottom with a messy ‘x-o’?

How I long for that old feeling… the scent of pine needles and turkey, and the laughter of children as they gather around and watch A Charley Brown Christmas while their parents sip eggnog and Bailey’s and reminisce about the old days.

How I long to look outside on Christmas morning and see a foot of snow covering the world and big fluffy flakes still floating down… a fire burning in the fireplace and the cat dozing under the tree.  Drinking hot cocoa with my family, sitting in our pajamas and fuzzy slippers…  Where has that Christmas gone?  WHY has it gone?

Am I the only one who has trouble finding that feeling again?  Am I the only one who every year says, “maybe this year I’ll find it”, only to be sadly disappointed yet again?

Where are you Christmas?   ….ahh… the memories….

I find myself already yearning for Christmas morning on a land that’s still only in my imagination – where my daughter (and eventually her family) come spend the holidays with us, and the house is filled with warmth and children’s laughter…  I long for the memories we’ll get to make, and hope that with those days will resurface the elusive joyful feelings of Yule.