Christmas Past– Ode to my Gracious Grandmother
The queen of entertaining, the busiest bee before Christmas Eve. My grandmother was the mid-century woman who took every part of Christmas to heart. It could have been partly due to an extra special Christmas Eve in 1951 when my mother was born early Christmas Day that she was never quite settled until Christmas was done to a tee.
My memories were beautifully wrapped presents with bounds of curly ribbons. Every coffee table complete with sugared walnuts and fudge. Grandma was no fool to good recipes. Years went by before I finally asked for her wonderful fudge recipe. She chuckled. “Dear, it’s on the back of the marshmallow fluff jar!”
Somehow even to this day, I can’t master that recipe like she did.
Through the years, she hosted Christmas with my great-grandmother, and we always had a double celebration. Christmas then my mother. I know my mom enjoyed her birthday mixed in with the rest of the festivities, but I’m sure we all enjoyed it probably more. Because if Christmas wasn’t enough, there was also birthday cake.
My grandmother was known for her cake making. I’ve covered it all here. But the special cake she made that everyone, including birthday girl, adored was her pistachio cake. Let me preface by saying, this cake is an authentic mid-century recipe made from none other than “J-E-L-L-O” pudding. Jello made its debut in our household as “there is always room for JELL-O.” This pistachio cake that is now my oldest daughters choice of birthday cake merely is Pistachio Jello pudding mixed with cool whip layered in ladyfingers topped with more cool whip (can you imagine?) and crunchified with Crunch candy bar chunks. Fantastic. Not exactly non-processed but a once a year guilty pleasure I promise. And as Jello would say “a light dessert.” Well, only if you didn’t indulge in Grandma’s fudge!
So what brings me to this story? I was asked to partake in a Christmas display window to bring back the good old days when department stores made fantastic displays. And when the thought approached me all I could think about was the prep work, the meticulous and mindfulness that back then was mastered by the mid-century folks before me. They walked along cold lit streets peering into fanciful windows and saved their hard earned money to spread love and joy to their families with gifts. I hate to say my days run together and Amazon and gift bags have become an unnecessary reality. What I hope for, what I aim to show in this display, is the dedication, the pure heart, the give it all you got kind of love like Grandma.