I’m doing my last minute running around before both of my kids are out of school and so my friend, Stacey, offered to share one of his recipes with you to give me a little more time to get my Christmas ducks in a row. This is his special Christmas story and I know you’ll enjoy it! Be sure and head on over to read My family’s Christmas story when you’re done, the Seven Cakes of Christmas (I have a free little ebook for you there, too!).
And I also want to share with you my Good Morning message that I posted on the Southern Plate Family Facebook page this morning if you’ll indulge me. Each morning I post a positive or uplifting message to get our day started right and today’s was a little more special to me.
“We’re in the home stretch with Christmas right around the corner! Don’t sweat the small stuff this week – seriously. I know this is the time where we all run around fretting and driving ourselves bat crazy over the tiniest details, doing everything we possibly can to make Christmas “perfect” for our families and those we love. But guess what? No matter what we do, how beautifully presents are wrapped, how much food is cooked, or what is beneath the tree – *You* and *I* will never be able to make Christmas perfect. God already did that :)
Now breathe in..exhale…and enjoy this beautiful season. GOOD MORNING!!! ~Christy”
Once again, Christy has asked me to share one of my family’s favorite recipes with the Southern Plate family. It’s a pleasure to do this every day over on Southern Bite, but I’m always humbled and overwhelmed when I get asked to share my food on what is arguably the BEST food blog on the net. When Christy asked me to post something that was holiday themed, I knew exactly what it had to be. But if you know me, then you know that no special post comes without a story…
My grandmother grew up poor. But just as Christy would say, she was rich in every way that mattered. And her story to me about her favorite Christmas was perfect evidence of that. She was one of six children. Out of necessity, both her parents worked to make ends meet and she was raised by her older siblings, as was so common in those days. Her father was a night watchman at a saw mill and her mother worked at a plant nursery. When Christmas would roll around though, poverty took nothing away from them in the way of magic and excitement. Every year, each child would be presented with one toy, an outfit their mother had made, and a small assortment of fruit, nuts, and peppermint candies. It was always her father’s job to go out and hunt the perfect Christmas tree. That was his big contribution to the celebration and he took great pride in presenting the perfect cedar tree for trimming.
Of course, running down to the tree lot was out of the budget, so he would set out in the woods to track down a prime specimen. One year in particular, they were living in Bay Minette and after several trips, he wasn’t able to find a cedar tree to suit. In a last ditch effort to provide something, he cut down a holly bush he found. He brought it back to the house and feeling a little embarrassed with his haul, set out to make it a little more special. Finding a can of silver paint, he painstakingly brushed every single prickly holly leaf with a shiny coat. The result, as my grandmother would put it, was the most beautiful, amazing Christmas tree she’s ever had. The love he put into that tree made it beautiful. They added the few ornaments they had and one small strand of bubble lights (that’s all they could afford). That tree went down in history with her and her family. And something that he thought inadequate, became the main focus of one of the most fond Christmases they ever shared.
As a child myself, I remember trying to figure how someone could be so excited about a silver bush and only one toy for Christmas. I mean she would reflect on Christmases past with the same starry-eyed look that I’m sure she had when they first happened. Today, as an adult with my own child, I have a much better understanding of the importance of a simple, but impactful holiday.
So often we get caught up in the holiday season that we fail to realize the simple things that make it so special. We focus our attention on buying the best gifts and decorating the perfect tree, when the real importance of the holiday lies in sharing the time with our loved ones. I grew up pretty poor myself and it’s one of the things in my life that I am most thankful for. Thankful for being poor, you ask? Yep! When you’ve had little, it help you appreciate when you have more and keeps you pretty grounded.
This holiday season, I hope that you’ll take the time to pay attention to the simple things. For one day, you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.
This recipe is one of those simple things that have always made holidays special in our family. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas would find this on my grandmother’s table. And now, I get the opportunity to share her recipe with y’all.
You’ll need: graham crackers, pecans, maraschino cherries, shredded coconut, raisins, mini marshmallows (yeah, I know I totally left them out of the picture – sorry), sweetened condensed milk
Crush entire box of graham crackers.
I used my food processor but you can also pop those crackers in a zip top bag and crush them with a rolling pin.
Coarsely chop pecans and cherries (saving the cherry juice).
Combine everything in a large bowl. Mix well.
You may have to use your hands for this – it’s messy but you get to lick your fingers afterwards so it’s totally worth it.
Add three tablespoons of the leftover cherry juice and mix well.
(You can add more if it seems too stiff.)
Turn out into a lightly buttered 9X13 pan and press flat. Chill at least 6 hours.