Not sure how Mother did all that

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 20, 2014

All of a sudden, I was in a spin in the kitchen. I had just spoken to my son on the telephone. His words were sweet to my ears: “I’ve decided to come home for Christmas.” Since he has been back at work a short time following a long recuperation from his third back surgery, I did not expect him to make the long drive home from Louisiana. There I stood, my head whirling with things I needed to accomplish before he and my granddaughter from Fort Lauderdale arrived.

Then a thought popped in my head: “How in the world did my mother ever make Christmas so special for us?” My children and I have such sweet memories of our Christmas visits with my parents “back home,” when we lived in South Carolina and Tennessee. Mother had a full-time job at a Birmingham department store. It involved arriving for work a little later in the day and working late every night during the Christmas season. Yet she managed to have the house absolutely shining, in order, and smelling like Christmas when my family rushed through the front door. She always decorated it with a big plastic Santa Claus.

Over in the corner of the living room sat a silver aluminum Christmas tree with a color wheel that made the tree different colors as it turned. (That tree captivated me so until Mother finally gave it to me. We enjoyed it at our house for several Christmases.) Under the tree were brightly wrapped gifts, tied with ribbons and bows on top.

A festive cloth covered the table of the maple dining room suite. She topped it with a wooden bowl filled with apples, oranges, and hard candy. She said Daddy always shopped for the Christmas oranges, apples, and candy for the table, and grapes for the fruit salad. He saw that we had various nuts to crack, including my favorite Brazil nuts. He provided a nutcracker in easy reach of the unshelled nuts.

Soon after we settled in at my parents’ house after our long trip, I went on the prowl for Mother’s special goodies. I knew her homemade, uncooked fruitcake was tightly wrapped in aluminum foil in the refrigerator. And somewhere close in the dining room, I found her mouth watering chocolate-covered cherries. I could not wait to dig into a familiar tin filled with the absolutely luscious fudge she made from her Mary Ball Candy Store recipe. I have no idea how she obtained it. I have read that the recipe was supposed to be a secret.

I sometimes watched Mother make her Christmas dressing, but I never wrote down her recipe. I cannot duplicate it, but I finally managed to make it taste fairly close to hers.

When families and friends gather to celebrate the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is a good time to recall past Christmases and make cherished memories.

Merry Christmas to you and your family from me and my family.