Traditions

December traditions have changed over the course of my lifetime, but each and everyone has created a wealth of wonderful memories. One of the greatest gifts I have ever received is that every Christmas has been safe, fun, exciting, rich with tradition and abundance, plus I have always been surrounded by people I love.

P_r14alkwjxc70039My second Christmas

For many years, Christmas Eve was the best day of the Holiday festivities. Last minute baking left the kitchen warm and aromatic. Mom would lay out a feast on the table for us to nosh on, and we "pieced" our way through the evening of joy. Freshly baked breads, cakes, cookies, and candies  are among my favorite childhood memories.

Every year mom made each one of u (4 girls!) a new flannel nightgown, which we were allowed to open on Christmas Eve. Mine was usually pink or blue, with ruffled yoke and hem. How I loved the first nights wearings of  that fresh, crisp gown, which was well worn by the next Christmas. 

We'd listen to Christmas songs, or we'd gather around the piano and sing our own carols, always waiting and listening for the sounds of Santa. Later in the evening we'd watch the news on our old black and white TV as the announcer tracked Santa's progress from the North Pole. We went to bed when he warned children the needed to be asleep or Santa might not stop! 

I'm thinking of the years there were 5 of us kids, a house full of noise, laughter, laundry, lights, gifts for the neighbors and baked goods abounding, the piles of packages under the tree, and the general chaos of life--that is what I think of when asked what Christmas means to me. Many traditions have changed through the years, and I can't think of one year that Christmas wasn't full of magic and joy. Riches beyond words, that's the joy of Christmas tradition. 


The Beauty of December

December is the season of lights, which I admit, bring to me a sense of wonder and awe. I can stand before a display of lights my mouth agape, my eyes wide with joy,  oblivious to the world around as I am transfixed by beauty I behold. I love the light (as I'm sure you know by now). 

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We spent Thanksgiving with our friends Monica and Steve (a wonderful day) and as we were driving home that evening we caught sight of a well lit tree off in the distance. We drove up a side street that led to a small cemetery and found at its center a very large tree covered with white lights. It was ethereal, magical, and we exclaimed to each other, with delight and wonder, how beautiful it was. As rarely happens when you're an adult, we were filled with awe. It felt like a gift to be among the first to see it.  

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The sunrises and sunsets are quite wonderful this time of year and the cloud displays before, after, and during a storm can surround the mountain tops with garlands and crowns. You know I love my mountains and winter can really bring out their unique beauty. White, snow covered mountains and clear blue skies are are also commandingly exquisite. 

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This time of year the golden glow glorifies our view in a way that isn't seen during the other seasons. December's light is the beautiful of the year and I must fill my heart and soul with this beauty before January's dingy skies move in.

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December is filled with with wonderful people, friends and family, parties and gatherings, (which is when I keep my phone in my pocket). I'm hopeful there will be time for Smith and I to be together this month, as well. 

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December offers more time indoors (demands it, actually), and that means more time to knit (maybe blog). I hope to be able to show you the TTL Mystery shawl I finished, and the Julianna shawl that's nearly off the needles. December's cold and snowy days offer the gift of knitting and reading time.

Just as Bonny said in her December post, December marks the beginning of the return of light. Solstice is a day of celebration and joy. I so look forward to the shorter nights to come. 


That Very Best Breakfast

Camping

It's been years. Back in the 80s, which is so crazy. How can it be that long ago? Let's say it was 1983, during the years we spent camping, sleeping on the ground, often without a tent, and cooked breakfast and dinner on an open fire. We often reminisce about the amazing meals we had. Like the time Camille readied a huge prime rib roast to cook as soon as we arrived at our campsite. We would head off to the wilderness of the High Uinta mountains and four-wheel the mountain trails until we found the perfect spot. We liked to have a creek or a lake nearby, which made life a little easier, but was not necessary. As soon as we found the perfect place we'd build a fire and get the coals red hot. The rib roast was slow cooked in a pit, surrounded by hot coals, and it was the best piece of beef we ever had. We were starved by the time it was ready, but it sure was worth the wait.

But, I should be talking about breakfast as it's Kat and Carole's "Think Write Tuesday".  When we were on our camping trips, breathing in the fresh mountain air, our appetites were enhanced. We took extra care in planning our meals, as one need not eat tin foil dinners when four-wheeling in the wilderness. Our friend Dave was the chef and everything he cooked was delicious and memorable. I could go on and on about his meals, but his mountain breakfast is something we still talk about, brag about, really.

Dave was always the first one up in the morning and he'd start the fire and put on the coffee. He would make sure there was a flat rock on the edge of the fire pit for his big old fashioned enamel coffee pot to rest. He'd get the water boiling and then tossed in a big handful of coffee and let it boil until it was dark and strong. When you wake up in the wilderness, nothing smells better than strong coffee.

The next thing he did was cook up a ton of bacon in his well seasoned cast iron skillet. When the bacon was nice and crisp, he's slice a bunch of bagels and crisp them up in the bacon grease. The best way to eat a crispy bagel is to slather it with cream cheese and topped with crisp bacon. The bagels were the perfect appraiser to what comes next, mountain eggs!

Mountain eggs are the pièce de résistance. They cannot be repeated without an open fire, a wood fire, in the middle of the wilderness. To begin Dave would add a cube of butter (yes, I said cube) to the leftover bacon grease, and as the butter melted, he crack a dozen eggs (or so) into a bowl, stirred until fluffy, then poured them into the skillet. As the eggs cook, he'd add in chunks of cheddar cheese and a big bunch of sliced jalapenos. The addition of the "mountain pepper", ashes from the burning wood, was the true seasoning for the eggs and that just happened as they cook. When the eggs were the right consistency, Dave liked them custardy, he'd serve them up to the hungry, waiting gang.

Food and friends make the best memories.