Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Last Minute Christmas

Happy Monday! I always look forward to Mondays. They’re my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!

#TheRecipeDetective

This Friday is Christmas Eve and Saturday is Christmas! Plus, the following weekend is the start of the new year – 2022! I don’t know where the time went but it sure flew by quickly! I feel like this is a last minute Christmas kind of year. I’m just getting our holiday cards out in the mail today. Usually, I have them written out and in the mail by Cyber Monday.

I did decorate our house – early – but I still haven’t made my annual holiday cookies and fudge, yet. I didn’t even START my Christmas shopping until a week ago. I still have a little more to get before I can wrap up that “to do” checkbox! I’ll also have to hurry this week to get my cookies and fudge made – or buy them or skip it, altogether.

Have you done all your cookie baking and treat making? Have you stuffed the stockings and wrapped the gifts and decked the halls? Or do you do it all at the last minute? According to an article by People’s staff, from this time last year, a survey was conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Punchbowl, questioning 2,000 Americans about their gift-giving and holiday celebration habits. Some of the survey results showed that…

…51% admitted to last-minute-holiday-shopping.

…33% admitted to losing track of time (as to why they shopped late).

…50% admitted to buying gifts on Christmas Eve.

…39% admitted to buying gifts on Christmas Day.

…37% admitted to leaving a party to buy a gift because they forgot to bring one.

…60% admitted to struggling to find “the perfect gift”.

…46% admitted to being bad gift-givers.

…60% admitted to being overwhelmed by the number of gifts they need to buy.

…59% admitted that holiday shopping felt more like a chore.

…58% admitted that sending holiday cards felt like a chore, as well.

…60% admitted to only sending holiday cards to those from whom they receive holiday cards.

…68% admitted to embracing and promoting gift-card-giving.

Additionally, according to the poll and People’s staff’s article, the top three places at which to get last-minute gifts (and I agree with all of these, as well) are, first and foremost, our local grocery stores (at 41%). Second place went to drug stores (at 33%), and third place went to liquor stores (at 30%).

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

Excerpts by Gloria Pitzer as seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Issue 147, Nov-Dec 1990; pp. 1 & 8)

THE EASIEST COP-OUT for those who put a price tag on the pleasures of the holiday & insist that the success of the celebration depends on the amount of money spent on the preparations and gifts. If I give our children only one gift, it will be that I gave some practical sense of what is truly important at this time of year – not the gift, but the gathering of family and friends…

Not the food, but the feeling of just being home… Never letting what we want be more important than what we need… Not complaining about trivials… And always appreciating what we’ve already received before we can expect to receive more.

THE CHRISTMAS FEELING is basically a simple hope for peace and good will, no matter what other trappings we’ve attached to the occasion through the years since that single star lit up the sky over Bethlehem. No matter what other customs and traditions mankind has attached to Christmas or the celebration of it, the humble wish for ‘peace on Earth, good will towards men’ remains strong among those who thrive on hope and cherish what is good, refusing to be deprived of such expectations!

I also agree with (and want to share) the top 10 choices for stocking stuffers, last minute or otherwise, according to Gifts Likely To Be Put In Family’s Christmas Stocking In The U.S. In 2021, published by D. Tighe (Nov 15, 2021). I’ve stuffed many stockings, over the past 35 years, with all of these items! Tighe’s wonderful article gives more than ten choices – thus, I recommend checking it out for yourself – but I’ll share the top 10 picks, which are as follows.

      • Note pads, pens, and pencils at 35%
      • Crayons and coloring books tied with jewelry or wearable accessories at 37%
      • Arts, crafts, and creative stuff (that’s not coloring) at 38%
      • Cash at 42%
      • Toothbrushes and oral care products at 49%
      • Packaged snacks at 50%
      • Gift cards at 54%
      • Lip balm at 59%
      • Small toys at 63%
      • Candy, chocolate, and/or gum at 83%

I remember one Christmas, when my kids were young, and our household income was so tight that we couldn’t afford to buy each other any gifts. Instead, we gave of ourselves, by making each other “coupon books” for our gifts – offering our time and services for doing someone’s chores or some other special favor – which could be redeemed at some future date throughout the new year.

Another year, for one of our Pitzer family Christmas Eve gift-exchanges, we all agreed (me, my siblings, and our parents) to make each other gifts, because we were all struggling to make ends meet in our own families. I’ve always thought that the homemade gifts were the best ones!

EVEN MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Christmas Card Cook Book

(Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1983, pp. 4-5)

BREAKING THROUGH THE BARRIERS of tradition, we find a spirited acceptance of new family values. Occasions have replaced celebrations. Getting together has been replaced by BEING together! Good food, comfortable conversation [and] warm hospitality have become more important to the family circle than reverence without reason, tolerance without tact, relatives without relationships!

The lovely part about Christmas for us, was always being together – with our friends, our good and dear neighbors and our relatives; in a series of activities that began with Thanksgiving and tapered off around the new year. It was hectic, but it was also many happy reunions, mixed well with spontaneous visitations that, had they been a part of the ordinary activities of the rest of the year, would not mean so much now!

The food was simple, but ample. The food, I feel, should never be more important than the guests for whom it is prepared…All of these preparations are a part of Christmas – but not the important part. The tokens only represent the real meaning – that of loving, of letting go of old grudges, of forgetting past hurts, of looking for something good (even though you don’t see it – until you do!)

LOVE, most philosophers conclude, is the highest level of thought. It is the logic of the heart. And no other season of the calendar year seems to reflect more of this feeling, this consolation to our woes, than the season of Christmas!

We reach out to others – and want them, in turn, to respond to us. Some of us do it with gifts that we buy or make and some of us do it with social gestures of food and hospitality. While all of these traditions are renewed at this particular time of the year, the critics complain and the cynics look for reasons to begrudge us the pleasure of loving the season, renewing the fellowship of it – with family, friends and neighbors.

But that’s not unusual and we shouldn’t be surprised by the criticisms that try to take some of the joy out of the holiday traditions we follow – or create for ourselves. There are always critics, unfortunately, for those occasions in our lives when we wish to be glad about something…

So, on with the celebration – whether we choose to keep it quietly in our own personal fashion of religious customs, or whether we choose to make it festive and pronounced with the traditions of gifts and food. The point is, we are celebrating the season of hope… It’s a time for loving – for expressing it [and] for offering it to others! How can something like that not be good!

Our own traditions have not been very elaborate in our family, during the Christmas season; but, the things we have always done to make the holiday more enjoyable, brought us pleasure. So, we have continued with them. Whether you choose to follow traditions or to create some of your own, the underlying meaning is still there to express joy and LOVE – that incredible, curious logic of the heart!

‘The celebration of the moments worth remembering continues to have its place.’Gloria Pitzer, Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Quarterly (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; Winter 1994/95).

LAST THOUGHTS…

Almost 30 years ago, Mom wrote in one of her newsletters about her and my dad’s plans for a Christmas present to me and my four siblings, of a cassette recording of the two of them talking about their life together and their most dearly remembered and cherished moments over the decades.

They intended to discuss the memories they had of their grandparents, whom we (my siblings and I) never got the chance to know. There was also to be other stories about our current family and past generations that we could pass on to our own future generations. I so wish they had followed through with that gift. I know it would’ve been priceless to me, at least, and to my own children, as well as to my grandson.

If only hindsight was foresight! I wish now, that I had written down more of Mom’s stories about our family’s history; or, better yet, that I had recorded those conversations during her last few years. We always tend to think there’s time for that later…but then, in the blink of an eye, that time is gone. I need to put together something like that for my own children, before it’s too late!

IN CLOSING…

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

In honor of Saturday, being National Pumpkin Pie Day, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for homemade From-Scratch Pumpkin Pie Filling; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 245). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].

#PumpkinPieDay

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Some of December’s month-long observances include… National Write A Business Plan Month, National Pear Month, Root Vegetables and Exotic Fruits Month, Safe Toys and Gifts Month, Worldwide Food Service Safety Month, National Human Rights Month, and Universal Human Rights Month!

Today is also… National Sangria Day!

Tomorrow, December 21st is… National Crossword Puzzle Day, National Humbug Day, National Maine Day, National French Fried Shrimp Day, Winter Solstice (which changes annually but is always between December 20th and 23rd, being the 21st for 2021), and Yule (which is always on the day of the Winter Solstice)!

Wednesday, December 22nd is… National Date Nut Bread Day and National Forefathers Day (which is always on the 22nd, unless it’s a Sunday, then it’s on the following Monday)!

December 23rd is… National Pfeffernusse Day, National Roots Day, Festivus, and National Re-Gifting Day (which is always the Thursday before Christmas)! In honor of the latter, here’s a “re-gift” of Mom’s quick, 3-to-4-ingredient, Christmas Fudge recipe, as she gave out in her and Dad’s 1994 Christmas cards! It’s my personal favorite!

#NationalRegifting Day

Friday, December 24th is also… National Eggnog Day! In honor of that, here is Mom’s secret recipe for “Egg Not” (also seen in her last book, mentioned above, on page 277)!

#NationalEggnogDay

Saturday, December 25th is also… the first day of the Twelve Days of Christmas (which is always December 25th through January 5th)!

Sunday, December 26th is… National Candy Cane Day, National Thank-You Note Day, and Boxing Day (in Canada)! Plus, this is the start of Kwanzaa Week (which is always the 26th–January 1st)!

#TGIM

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-thank-god-its-monday-day-first-monday-in-january/

…51 down and only 1 more to go for 2021!

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