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Traditions - Then and Now.

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Bow Walker

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Way back when I was still living at home there were a few Traditions that me and my brothers grew up with - Traditions that we still carry on today, some 60-ish years later.

Mom would make 'potato' candies - they were soft centered and made with water that had been used to boil spuds. Often she would roll the candies in melted chocolate and coat them with toasted coconut. We called them "Snowballs"

She also made a saltwater taffy and spent countless hours cutting them up and wrapping each little piece in wax paper.

Of course she made mincemeat tarts - the one with the little hats on them. The way to eat them was to take the hat, give it a bit of a twist and pull it off, eating it first, then eating the tart in two big bites.

Mom's fruitcake was legendary. Dark, moist, heavy, loaded with fruit and a few pecans, and sans almond paste icing. To this day I do not care for marzipan on anything. The fruitcake was made somewhere in the beginning of November and resided in the dark cupboard, wrapped in cheesecloth. It only saw the light of day when Mom brought it out and poured a tot (or three) of rum over the cakes - then back into the dark it went.

Our Christmas pudding was called Spotted Dick, or Spotted Dog. It was a white dough with raisins, currants, and some other fruit mixed in. It was steamed in cheesecloth to cook and was served hot with a hard sauce poured over..... My mouth still waters when I think of Spotted Dick pudding.



Christmas morning was always an early affair. Us three boys would wake each other up at "O-sparrow-fart-thirty" and we'd be upstairs in our shared bedroom, laughing, wrestling, and trying to be quiet (hopeless task) until we heard stirrings downstairs. Those stirrings were a result of us being to excited, boisterous, and loud....almost always waking up Mom and Dad.

We got the "OK, come on down!" after the kettle had boiled and the Christmas tree lights were turned on - then the stampede was on!. It's a wonder none of us tripped and took a header down those stairs. First up was a wide-eyed, first look at the Christmas tree. When we went to bed the night before it was empty of presents. In the morning it was all lit up and almost buried under presents. Count about three or four presents for each of us three boys and the two or three that Mom and Dad got for each other, plus a couple for each family member from aunts and uncles and it is easy to envision a loaded tree.

We each had our "spots" on the chesterfield (it wasn't called a couch back then) and in each spot was our stockings, bulging with little presents. We'd rush over to our spots and tip the stockings upside down -emptying the contents on the cushions beside us and on the floor at our feet..... we were looking for the Japanese orange that was always, always in the toe of the stockings. That was our morning's first treat.

After that it was a matter of opening the little presents - comparing them among the three of us. One would open a present to find it was a wallet, with your initial on it - the others would madly search through the pile to find their own wallets, because (of course) each kid got the same presents. Mom would have bought three of everything that the 5-and-Dime had to offer it seemed.

Some of these traditions are still carried on today, some have sadly gone by the wayside. Traditions shaped our psyche and helped to mold us into who we are today.... Good times, gone (maybe) but definitely not forgotten.
 
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Big Lew

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Different family backgrounds, different traditions. As my brothers and sisters came along
our Christmas traditions remained the same. Always a real tree, and it got decorated on
Christmas eve which was a mini holiday in itself. Grandparents and/or nearby aunts and
uncles were there to enjoy all manner of baked treats and Christmas type drinks as the tree
got all it's jewelry, much of it passed on down or collected throughout the years. Favourites
for the kids were the bubble lights and the real lead tinsel. It was always a treat to get a chance
to 'flick' a bubble light tube in order to get it to bubble. When we woke early on Christmas morning
we always found a socking stuffed with all sorts of goodies, one special gift, and of course, the
Japanese orange.
Some of those traditions were carried on when my kids came along, but my wife's family traditions
took over much of the rest. No more was the tree always real, nor was it decorated on Christmas Eve.
It got put up and decorated sometimes weeks in advance. No more was there a family gathering on
Christmas Eve.
 
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Bow Walker

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It's an actual English dessert item Don....

61YRHEOHd5L._SX355_.jpg

This from Wikipedia....
Spotted Dick is a British pudding, made with suet and dried fruit (usually currants and/or raisins) and often served with custard.
It is made from a mixture of flour, milk, caster sugar, suet, dried fruit, flavorings and baking powder, which is combined into a soft dough, and then cooked into a pudding over indirect heat (simmering water).[1]
 
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Bow Walker

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It used to be an inevitability (more than a tradition) around our place as a kid that Mom always forgot where she hid all the presents for everyone..... Seems every year there would be Mom, scrabbling thru every closet, cupboard, nook and crannie - searching for that one (or two) gifts that she just knew were there somewhere.

She'd disappear while we were all basking in the afterglow of the frenzied present opening - sometimes gone for more that 30 minutes, searching high and low because she was absolutely certain that "Stephen should have had one more present to open."

Got to be a game after a few years - guessing where Mom had hidden that last present.
 
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Bow Walker

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Around our house mincemeat tarts were the tradition at Christmas. Not mincemeat pie, not mincemeat squares, cut from a big sheet pan - but tarts - with the little hats on them. The tarts were not those ones made using those lazy-assed, store bought, cake-type, ready-made tart shells either. They were handmade from real, artery clogging, thick pastry that was rolled out on a counter covered in flour, and hand-cut using a big drinking glass or clean tin can.

They were also NOT those wussie, thin, little, granola lover's one-bite tarts either - they were almost two-handers and they definitely at least three bites big.....filled to almost over flowing with (back in the day) Schneider's mincemeat that came in a 5 gallon pail to the butcher store - who then sold it by the pound.

mince-tarts-2.jpg

The little hats could be star shaped, crinkle cut, or just smaller circles of thick pastry, and they were there so you could pick them off and eat them first, along with the mincemeat that stuck to them. I wasn't a fan of the icing sugar that often got sprinkled on after the baking - but WTH, beggars could not be choosers, and with three hungry boys around Mom had a hellova time keeping "goodies" in the cupboard or in the cookie tins.

mince-tarts-5.jpg

Now - after 20 years of marriage and resisting for all I was worth, I have given in to my wife's family tradition of a mincemeat pie for Christmas....... she's from Toronto - 'nuff said.

So this year instead of having a dozen or two tarts plus a pie to deal with, I graciously gave up another of my very fond childhood memories and traditions - opting for peace on earth and mince pie on the table. "She" made the pastry - supervised, of course. I rolled it out to the 'proper' thickness and put it in the pie plate, then filling it with what is quite possibly man's greatest invention - sweet mincemeat.

Before going in the oven.

Mincemeat Pie 2018 Before.jpg


After being attacked and partially devoured after too much turkey n stuffing.

Mince Pie 2018 After.jpg
 

Riverbc

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Glad I’m on the bike at the gym for an hour. It’s the only thing I’ve been able to do for 5 weeks. Herniated discs suck!!!


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Big Lew

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My grandparents all cherished English type Christmas cakes and puddings...none of their grandchildren did. In my opinion that’s a very good thing!
 
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