Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Traditions

Dear Grandmother Hoo Hoo,
As we get ready for Christmas, I am remembering the packages of holly and pine cones and fir boughs that you sent to our home in California. As kids, we were completely happy with 70 degree weather for Christmas, but I know my Mom really missed Newberg, Oregon, the farm and the Christmases of her youth. She always looked forward to your package and decorated our home with the greens. For her it was the scent of home, for us it became the scent of Christmas. I don't remember if I ever included gratitude for the greens in my Christmas thank you notes, but the packages were much appreciated.

Wish I knew more about the origin of your Christmas traditions. I know that you opened presents on Christmas Eve. My Mom always talked about how special it was to get her stocking Christmas morning because it would always have an orange in the bottom. She said that your sister Edythe Colby Keckley would send them from her store in Agra, Kansas. Aunt Helen says because there was no fireplace, she and Mom would hang their longest Lisle cotton socks on two nails on the back of the solid front door. My siblings and cousins remember a new front door with a window.

Aunt Helen remembers that they used to go with Kenneth down to the "back end of the place" to cut a fresh Christmas tree, always a Douglas Fir. If the weather had been bad and you couldn't get across the creek, then friends who lived up on Chehalem Mountain would let them come and cut a tree there. They would also collect mistletoe that Kenneth shot out of its host tree with a shot gun.

The Christmas tree was placed next to the twin front windows so it could be seen from the street.
Aunt Helen remembers years when snow had drifted up against the window and how pretty the reflection of the tree light shone in the snow. The girls strung pop corn and cranberry garlands, and placed clip-on birds as well as a glass "green and pink ornament shaped like a cabbage" on the tree. The last touch was the tinsel, in Oregon it was called rain, which made the tree shimmer with silver.

I'm sure that as a widow, raising two children during the Great Depression, it was difficult to put a lot of presents under the Christmas tree. Aunt Helen remembered 'Big Little Book' with Dick Tracy stories that they often traded with Marian and Bobby Nelson, the kids across the street. She also remembered one year Aunt Madge (Madge Colby Massey) sent two "Jolly Joanne Dolls" each complete with a trunk filled with clothing and accessories.

I understand that Christmas dinner was ham with scalloped potatoes and your special fruit salad with a whipped cream dressing (really wish I could find that recipe) and carrot steamed pudding with lemon sauce for dessert. I want you to know that your carrot pudding will be one of the desserts we'll be enjoying with our Christmas dinner. Ed and I will be joined by daughters Amanda, Colby and Colby's husband Chris and their 18 mo. old son Cooper. Next year there will be another baby at our table.  I wish you could be here to share the day with us.

Merry Christmas and lots of love,

Carrot Pudding
1 cup grated peeled white potato
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup currants (I substitute golden raisins if I can't find currants).
1/2 cup ground suet (I substitute butter if I can't find suet).
1 cup all purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
Mix all together, adding the flour a little at a time until mixture is stiff.
Pour into well greased pudding tins. Steam for 3 hours. Cool and turn out on to serving plate.
 Serve with lemon or hard sauce.

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