The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Enid Features

December 4, 2012

Simple holiday things


Aunt Bill’s Microwave Candy

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup buttermilk

3⁄4 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups chopped nuts

Mix sugar, soda, buttermilk and butter in large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, with holes punched in it. Microwave on high for two and a half minutes. Stir and turn dish. Continue cooking for 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes. Continue cooking, checking every two minutes until soft ball forms in cold water or candy thermometer measures 236 degrees. DO NOT PUT THERMOMETER IN MICROWAVE OVEN. Add vanilla and beat with electric mixer until soft peaks form. Stir in nuts and spread in buttered 9-by-9-inch dish. Cool and cut into pieces.

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.Is your holiday season just about material things? Think about it.

I feel very fortunate that I was raised during the Great Depression. We were poor, but everyone was. Material things were the furthest things from our minds. We never thought to ask for everything for Christmas, because first of all, we were not bombarded with advertisements of things to want everywhere we turned, and secondly, we never thought that much about “things.”

Somehow, my generation failed. We failed to teach our kids and grandchildren money is not that important for true happiness. Money does not grow on trees and needs to be made, spent and saved with intelligence and respect. I am wondering if my parents and grandparents felt they had failed us, too.

Hopefully, as we age we learn how material things are not that terribly important. The important things in our lives are health, family, faith, friends and security. We hope the younger generations won’t be obsessed with material things. Hopefully, they will, in time, appreciate the relevant things necessary for happiness.

Back in the “old days,” we were content with nuts, fruit and maybe one surprise in our Christmas stocking. We had all the joy of finding a tree, cutting it, stabilizing it, trimming it and making the trimmings. The popcorn we strung was about half of what we popped because we got to eat all the broken ones. We strung cranberries. We made chains out of construction paper. We had the most beautiful trees in the world. The reason they were so beautiful was that we had the true meaning of Christmas. We did not have material things, but we had all the joyful, sacred, spiritual aspects of that special season.

We sang Christmas carols around the piano at home. We went caroling to the neighbors, especially any who were elderly or ill. In Pawnee, where I was raised, the church again will go caroling on a hayrack from house to house. Then they will return to the church for hot chocolate. What has happened to those wonderful days of simple Christmases? Everything seems so complicated and materialistic nowadays.

Part of our Christmas celebration was making gobs and gobs of cookies we delivered to neighbors and friends. We gathered pecans in the fall so we could make special goodies for Christmas. We pulled the peanuts off in the winter after the plants had dried and cured so we could roast them in a pan on the top of the heating stove. We made Christmas cards for each other and spent hours in secret making them just perfect.

It was not imperative to have presents to have a good Christmas, but we always managed to make something thoughtful out of bits of string, paper, rocks, shells or whatever, for our brothers and sisters and Mother and Daddy. And we always received a gift from Santa.

We read lots and lots of wonderful Christmas stories and memorized “The Night Before Christmas.” We made manger scenes out of clay and baked them and dressed them in scraps of fabric. Some of them looked almost grotesque, but we thought they looked beautiful in the manger we made out of corn cobs, sticks and bark. I am sure our efforts pleased God and the Christ Child.

I have been sorting out unused Christmas decorations and trying to get things to a level that I can easily store them. I am convinced that simple is just as beautiful and even more meaningful — and much easier. Decorations are material things and unless they hold special meaning or add to our Christmas joy, out they go. Let someone else enjoy them now that I am finished using them. I know that we will still have all the joy of the season without all the fuss of material things. We are more appreciative of a warm home and our happy dog and just enjoying being together for another Christmas season. Material things just don’t mean what they once did. I think we have mellowed to appreciate the peace and quiet of the Christmas holidays.

Probably again this year, we will go to Pawnee to my brother’s ranch home and enjoy the quietness and peacefulness of the country with all the grandchildren and extra family. We all take food in so it is not a burden to the hostess. We play silly games that little kids and adults can play together, usually on the floor. If it snows, we will play “Fox and Goose” out in the field, and ride the hay sled behind the tractor. A wonderful, meaningful time will be had by all.

When I was a kid, part of our Christmas celebration was making lots of candy. We made cream fudge, peanut brittle, pulled taffy, divinity, fondant, date roll and others. There was not any candy I would not tackle. Back then, we had many pairs of hands and arms to help stir and beat Aunt Bill’s Brown Candy. I now make it in the micro-wave. Tastes the same but much easier. I have had only one person say hers was a failure, and I would suspect it was a difference in microwave ovens. I have had many requests to repeat it. Hope you enjoy it as you discover the true meaning and the reason of this Christmas season.

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