Archive for December, 2012

Christmas Cooking

December 21, 2012

I am a mediocre cook, always have been.  While I type with chocolate under my fingernails, misshapen mounds of buttery coconut fondant coated with lumpy chocolate are hardening in the freezer.  The “Martha Washingtons” are barely acceptable.  Soon, I will trudge back into the kitchen to mix “Mamie Eisenhower” fudge.  I will never have a dessert named for me, but I love to cook at Christmas.  I bake “Dida’s Sally White Cake” for my relatives, whether they want it or not.  Dida was my great-grandmother.  Don’t know who Sally was, but she made a traditional light fruitcake popular in the South in the 19th century.  I found this deeply satisfying fact and a similar recipe in Bill Neal’s Biscuits, Spoon Bread, and Sweet Potato Pie.   Me and my great-grandmother in the larger Southern culture.  Tomorrow, I will tackle my aunt’s beloved cheese straws, no lady’s name attached.  If I master the recipe, which is doubtful, I will name them “Aunt Bryan’s Cheese Straws”.  I love the aromas of Christmas.  I delight in the luxury of stacks of Christmas tins, heavy with sweets.  I play Christmas music over the noise of the hand mixer.  I feel love.  I deliver my gifts with relish, taking rare moments to tell people I love that I really do care about them.  Most of the year, I rush past them, with bare salutations or instructions for work.  Now, I am as childishly pleased as when I delivered handmade potholders to my aunts, who never failed in lavish praise for my lumpy squares of multicolored cotton.  I love Christmas!  I love to bring my gifts.  Nativity scenes were everywhere when I grew up, at home, at church, and in the town square.  Now that Jesus has taken His rightful place in my heart, I weep as I set out the tiny figurines in our living room.  The dark Magi are awesome, with their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  The gawking shepherds bring little, but arrive first, having heard from angels bursting open the dark Judean sky.  My nativity scene has the aroma of cookies wafting from the kitchen.  Jesus’s real birth place smelled like cow manure.  His life of harsh sacrifice enabled my life.  Because He came to die, I will live forever.  In the midst of these massive and amazing incongruities, I adore Him.  I rejoice in it all.  Hallelujah! Merry Christmas!