And Christmas is so expensive. And I hate that.
Yes, she's whining and she will now stop it.
Before I go any further, I want to be GRATEFUL for some things:
- Poodle, my BFF. I tell you, it's ALL FRIENDSHIP ALL THE TIME. I am so thankful for him. So. Very. Thankful.
- Julie's sweet email yesterday. She will never know...
- Wendy's sweet note on my FB page. Once again...she will never know...
- Work - it may not be 'my perfect job' but we're gettin' there, and it pays the bills. And there is always some left over.
- My new gloves that the 'left over' bought last night. I was at Wal*Mart - and I know, I know - but I found these LOVELY black Isotoner suede gloves with a knit cuff on them that keeps the cold from going up your coat or down your hands. They are GREAT! And so stylish. I love that.
- 'Extra Work' in the form of editing for Tracy the Seminarian. Thanks, my friend. It has been great!
- Friend and neighbor Paula - it's so cool to move somewhere and find out that your neighbor is also someone really great that you know. Life is indeed good!
- Pearl. There is NO ONE on earth like The Pearl and she is my buddy and my friend. I love Pearl. I love all the time we spend together.
- Debbie in California. I hope you read this. You're the bomb, woman. The total bomb.
- Knowing and enjoying the reason for this season. It is all going to work out. I will have the money for the things I need to do and want to do. God is good.
You will be happy to know that I did NOT eat a bunch of junk yesterday although I did eat a whole big thing of hummus from the store AND a bunch of crackers, so sue me. It could have been worse. It really could have been. No fruit this morning but I had some almonds (and my guy who first worked with me on how I eat said," Almonds qualify as fruit." Cool...)
My mood is so much better. The holidays are hard. I am making plans NOT to have Crazy Holidays. This weekend is just for Weltha with as little stress as possible, and the only 'activity' is decorating my Christmas tree (which I will be getting very soon...) with Paula. Woo to the HOO!!!
Lunch today, I am so sorry to say, may be some chips that I bought (some pita chips and yes, I ate up all the hummus, doggone it. I need to just MAKE SOME.) and probably some Work Salad Bar which is also the bomb! I have a few extra bucks and that's all to the good. Okay, reporting back - and it was WORK SALAD BAR! All vegetables, all fresh!
Today should have been a Weigh-In-Wednesday but Sister here forgot to do so (Freud says there are no mistakes...) so we may postpone this until next Wednesday...yeah...that's the spirit!
And now...Advent Meditation of the Day
MY MOTHER'S FRUITCAKE
Told ya I'd blog on this one.
Most of the time, when people say 'fruitcake' other people think of a brick that you use to keep the door shut. You know, nasty and mass-produced with lots of bitter yuckiness in it.
Sometimes, they think of Aunt Myrtle's heirloom fruitcake which would probably be really good but it's been soaking the last 15 years in Uncle Frederick's bourbon and no one has ever eaten a bite.
But my mom's fruitcake was a real spicecake with just enough fruit - all of it (except the marachino cherries in red and green) candied by Mom herself, combined with raisins, dates, pecans, English walnuts, and this lemon-coconut sauce...yes, Mom made it with real coconut from a real coconut that we bought, drained, cracked open and peeled.
It was by far the most labor-intensive food-type item my mom ever made. And for years, she made it every doggone Christmas. A HUGE batch with 2 big sheet pans full of fruitcake and then various smaller ones that went home with relatives or were driven over to friends and teachers.
I can't remember when Mom would start it but I have a feeling it was right around now (and by the way, today is the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Let's pause for a moment and commit the souls of those who died that day to God and to eternal rest) because it took loads of time.
As I said, she candied the fruit - starting with dried apricots which she had the devil of a time keeping my brothers from filching. "This box is for you two to eat, and these boxes are for the fruitcake!" She candied them right on the stove in a sugar syrup.
And she candied pineapple. I wish I could say that she bought a pineapple, but she didn't. Back then, in our small town in the Midwest, pineapples just did not make an appearance in the grocery stores. So...she bought Dole tidbits and candied those. Nothing smells like the perfume of pineapple cooking in sugar syrup. She usually saved out a little bowl for me because I loved it so much.
Dad and I generally cracked the pecans and the English walnuts, and I seem to remember being handed a box of pitted dates and a pair of scissors to cut them up. Yes, it was messy. Yes, I wish I were back there now, with the heat of the kitchen and something - cookies? dinner? - perfuming the air, and the general hustle and bustle of a family of 5 all working at one time while my mother was Commander in Chief of the operation.
My brothers handled the coconut - one pierced it with an icepick and drained it (because Mom used the coconut milk in the sauce) and then they both cracked it out back with a hammer, brought it in where we all took paring knives to peel the black rind off. Mom put it through her food grinder - the same one I still have today, thanks to Ken the Car-Man (he knows what I mean.) The sauce, as my mother never tired of telling us or anyone else who would listen, was simply the coconut milk, the ground coconut, lemon juice, and sugar cooked to a sauce.
I remember my mom had a mammoth blue canning kettle - the enamel kind with the white speckles - and she stirred all that flour, eggs, oil, spices, fruit and nuts and whatever else in it. And then, she baked the fruitcakes. I think they all baked in the same evening, but I'm not sure.
Once they had cooled down, she put the sauce on them and let it soak in.
My family didn't do a whole lot together - my brothers were fairly independent and as a pair of twins, had lots of their own plans. I was almost 9 years younger. My father - who loved us dearly and absolutely worshipped my mother - was still a sort of solitary man. My mom was usually too harried by the demands of a family to "do stuff" with us.
But the fruitcake - we did that together, as a family, every Christmas.
My mother was a genius in making traditions EVEN when she wasn't trying to do it. She just did the same things year after year, and we fell into the rhythm of the season with her.
I keep talking about making Mom's fruitcake - and one year, I will. Maybe next year. Maybe NEXT year when I actually fit that rockin' black sweater and amber-taffeta skirt...
Today, I miss my parents. I listen to online radio at work, and I'm listening to Pantera's Christmas Classics. And I hear songs that take me back to our kitchen, to the table where my mother made her fruitcake, to a house that smelled of spices and sweetness and fruit, to the Christmases of my childhood.