Happy Monday and happy December! Additionally, happy holidays to all and to all #TGIM! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share Memories of My Mom with all of you!
Wednesday is national Christmas Card Day! Last week, I wrote about Mom’s annual, homemade Christmas card/letters. And that, for an added “gift” of kindness, she would also include some of her favorite holiday recipes.
Additionally, last week, I shared a few of those recipes (from Mom’s 1994, homemade, Christmas card) on-the-air with Kathy Keene – on her “Good Neighbor” show on WHBY in Appleton, WI. If you missed the show, you can listen to the podcast at https://www.whby.com/2020/11/30/laura-pitzer-emerich-amy-albright/.
[NOTE: I’ve included pictures of four of Mom’s 1994 Christmas card recipes (which I shared with Kathy last Monday) throughout this blog post. Happy holidays and happy cooking!]
The history/custom of sending Christmas card greetings seems to have begun in England, around 1843, by Sir Henry Cole. The first known Christmas “card” was sent to King James I of England in 1611. Possibly inspired by that holiday greeting, Sir Henry, along with his artistic friend, John Callcott Horsely, created the first “published and sold” Christmas cards; encouraging others to share good memories and holiday greetings between family, friends and others!
Today, even with electronic or e-cards available, we still mail more “hard copy” cards through the postal service – and a wide variety of them too – especially during December! These holiday greetings may be in the form of family pictures or professional photo cards or even a one- or two-page letter that highlights the family’s “big” events for the year.
Another idea that I’ve personally done in past years (before the internet came along), when money was tight, is to send holiday postcards! Postcards have a photo on one side, a simple message on the other side, and are suitable for mailing without an envelope. Plus, they cost less in postage, as well. Holiday postcards are quick and easy to make by recycling previously received Christmas cards.
Holiday greeting cards may be the only communication we send to/receive from a specific friend or family member all year long. These annual greetings touch people’s hearts with an extra bit of meaning during this time of year. It’s even more special when we take the time to say, “We’re thinking of you.”
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Christmas Card Cook Book (Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1983, p. 3)
Sending Christmas cards has always been a favorite tradition in our house. In 28 years, we only sent store-bought cards twice. Every Christmas, other than that, we made our cards. That was the one important tradition we followed – and still do…
What usually happened was that we had every good intention of confining our list to those who really were important to us [and] who we rarely saw during the rest of the year… I like to put newsy little notes inside that would bring old friends up to date with what we had been doing since we sent them our last Christmas card.
…I am one of those annoying sentimentalists who will, too, read every word of the long, newsy Christmas letters and the page-by-page accounts of how our friends have been doing since the last Christmas.
I don’t know if fewer cards are being sent at Christmas since postage became so expensive – or if we simply don’t know that many people. The tradition, however, seems to be fading…
December, and all the holidays within it, was probably one of Mom’s most favorite times of every year. ‘Tis the season of Faith, Hope and Love! ’Tis the season of sentimentalists, as well. Mom said, in the memory above, ‘I am one of those annoying sentimentalists’… I don’t find it annoying to be a sentimentalist, as Mom wrote, and I never have – but, then again, I’m in that sentimentalist club too!
‘Every year at this time, we put our very best wishes together with some warm & worthy thoughts, and send them off to you, wrapped in sincere affection and the dearest hopes that this coming year gives you all you expect and derive from it.’ – Gloria Pitzer; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Quarterly, Winter 94/95.
This year, as I write our messages in Christmas cards, from my husband and I to all of our friends and family, I can’t help but reminisce over this past year’s trials-and-tribulations compared to those in previous years. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, 2020 has been a rough one for all of us. It has certainly given us cause to re-evaluate what things are most important to us. Everyone’s “important things” will probably vary since, as I said (above), “We are all different…”
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter, Issue 147 (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov-Dec 1990, pages 1 & 8)
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 [the] trivial… 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!
The importance of the personal gatherings over the tangible gifts has become more significant this year. The giving of the best of ourselves – without expectations of reciprocations of gratitude – is what true “Santas” do. My kids never learned “there’s no such thing as Santa Claus”, because I taught them something different, ever since they were each toddlers.
Similar to The New York Sun’s answer to Virginia, I taught my kids that the “spirit of Santa” lives on in each of us through selfless acts of giving from our hearts. It is with this kind of selflessness that we actually receive our own true gift – one that can’t be bought or even price-valued – the gift of LOVE! With that, there will ALWAYS be a Santa Claus!
Before Mom passed away, while dealing with Dementia, she often reminisced about our ancestors from her childhood memories. She couldn’t understand how she could remember such things so clearly, like they happened yesterday, but couldn’t remember who she saw or spoke to in the previous day.
If only hindsight were foresight! Now I wish I had wrote her stories down – or, better yet, recorded the conversations. We always tend to think there’s time for that later…but then, in the blink of an eye, that time is gone. Over 27 years ago, Mom wrote in one of her newsletters about plans that she and Dad made for a “someday” Christmas present to us kids of a recording of the two of them talking about their life together and their favorite, cherished moments.
Mom also mentioned sharing memories of their own grandparents, whom we (my siblings and I) never got the chance to know; as well as other stories about the family that we could pass on to future generations. I so wish they had followed through with that gift. It would’ve been priceless to me and my own children, as well as to my grandson.
AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Christmas Card Cook Book (Secret RecipesTM, 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!
You don’t need to be crafty to create your own homemade holiday cards, gifts, and decorations. Nowadays, ideas and instructions for making just about anything can be found on the world wide web by typing a few key words into a search engine like Google or Bing. The knowledge of the world is, literally, at our finger tips!
My favorite low cost, homemade, gift ideas usually use canning jars – any size or style you want! These jars are so versatile – and reusable too! They can be filled with a homemade dried seasoning mix or baking mix ingredients and a recipe card for what to add and how to use the mix.
Canning jars can also be filled with natural elements like pine sprigs, cloves, cinnamon sticks, etc. for a homemade potpourri that can easily be simmered in a pot of hot water on the stove. They can also be filled with homemade candy, soaps or lotions – there are so many “how to” sites on the internet, from which to gather ideas, inspirations and instructions.
Aside from Bing and Google, Pinterest is often the first source I tap for these kind of ideas and inspirations, as well as YouTube. My own personal page at Pinterest, ldemerich, (which I started many years ago) can be seen at https://www.pinterest.com/ldemerich and has quite an eclectic collection of boards.
The OFFICIAL Pinterest page of the Recipe DetectiveTM, which represents Mom and her cookbooks and her legacy, can be seen at https://www.pinterest.com/therecipedetective. Keep in mind, however, that it’s only a couple of years old and I’m still building up boards there. It is a continuous work in progress (WIP), as is this website.
In honor of December being #NationalPearMonth, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for #CinnamonPearCup; as seen in her self-published cookbook, Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1983, p. 6)!
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
Some other celebrations for the week include:
Today is National Cotton Candy Day
Tuesday is National Brownie Day
Wednesday is also National Pastry Day
Thursday is when Chanukah Begins
Sunday is National Cocoa Day
…49 down, 3 to go!