Saturday, December 21, 2013

Radish you a Merry Christmas and Other Good Memories

This year's radishes got too tough to eat. So there was nothing left to do but hang them on the tree.

The best Christmas memories besides decorating the 2013 radish tree with my husband and daughter were:


When I was 3, mom and I tried to make a triple batch of divinity. We had a small kitchen and the recipe made way more than mom thought it would. Soon all the bowls were full and all the counter were full of bowl. Some pots of divinity had to be put on the floor. Mom was wearing black highish heals. She stepped in one of the pots of divinity and her shoe came off in it. We are still laughing about that today.

6 cups white sugar
 11/2 cup light corn syrup
 21/2 cup hot water
 3/4 teaspoon salt
 6 egg whites
 3 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large 70's style clomper high heal.

In three heavy, 2 quart saucepans, combine the sugar, corn syrup, hot water, and salt. Cook and stir until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil. Then cook to hard ball stage without stirring, 250 degrees F (120 degrees C.) Frequently wipe crystals forming on the sides of the pan, using a pastry brush dipped in water. Remove from heat.
Just as the syrup is reaching temperature, begin whipping egg whites: In batches of two eggs at a time in a large glass or stainless steel mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. You will need several bowls.

Pour hot syrup in a thin stream over beaten egg whites, beating constantly with the electric mixer at medium speed. Increase speed to high, and continue beating for about 5 minutes. Add vanilla; continue beating until the mixture becomes stiff and begins to lose its gloss. If it is too stiff, add a few drops hot water.

Immediately drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper. If floor is full of bowls and pans and plates of divinity, watch your step. For a decorative flair, twirl the top with the spoon when dropping or add one size 7, 70's style clomper stacked high-heel shoe. Let stand until set--shoe will not come loose if you wait until dad gets home to show him. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Go shoe shopping.

Snow Dances

Every other year we spent Christmas in the Finger Lakes region of New York with Grandma and Bapa and aunts, uncles, and cousins.

My best friend was my cousin M. who was only 9 months my junior. Once we got done trying to kill each other we were inseparable. Most of my best Christmas memories involve her.  One of which was a recurrent tradition of doing snow dances on the day my family was supposed to leave New York in hopes of conjuring up a blizzard so the roads would be impassable and we would get to stay an extra day or two. It worked once.

Sugar High

When we were five,  M. and I both got long tapes of red and green santa clause suckers in our stockings for Christmas. We snuck off to grandma's play room and ate all three feet worth of suckers. Then we fell asleep together in the toy bin in an joyous stupor of sugar overdose.

Candy Canes and other Fragments 

Aunt M.A. Showed M and I how to make macramé candy canes. We made tons. Gramdma had us paint ceramic ornaments every year. We helped grandma bake cookies and make raviolis for Christmas dinner. One year the Children's Christmas mass at St. Pat's got visited by bats.

Edward Scissorhands Made it Snow in Geneva

When M. and I were older we went to see Edward Scissorhands in an old theater in Geneva New York. It had not been snowing all day and the Finger Lakes region had been rather deficient in snow so far that year. We went in to theater and were quickly captivated by the movie's imagery and its tragic romance. We were at the age where we could just begin to appreciate such things. The movie ended with its scene of ice sculpture snow falling on the suburbs. When we left the theater it was snowing big fluffy flakes and the whole city had been covered in a downey blanket of white.


When I was in graduate school at UT, Knoxville had a lighting ceremony on Market Square every year before Christmas. I went to this evening event by myself usually because my husband worked nights and all my classmates and associates were men. I aways felt very lonely at Christmas during this time of my life. I missed M. and all the family who were so far away.  One  particularly cold year instead of just lighting the tree at the center of the square, the organizers handed out candles. The light started at one end of the crowd and went from candle to candle, person to person. A few hundred strangers were sharing this light and singing carols. It felt like the square warmed up as the light spread. When the light made it all they way acres the square the tree was turned on. For a few minutes I felt that all people were just as special and dear to me as M and I did not feel lonely at all.

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