CHRISTMAS 2018

Our family always had one of the most fashionable Christmas trees in  
our hometown of Richland, Georgia.  Momma was a gifted artist and she  
insisted that the tree in our living room be a masterpiece in design.   
Daddy’s job was to locate and set up the tree, a live one of course,  
and to maintain the lights; the rest of the decorating was performed  
by momma.

Occasionally trees were sold by local grocery stores but most people  
went to the woods to find a suitable specimen.  Our parents preferred  
a cedar tree and that unique aroma is such a part of my memory.  We  
did not have a fireplace to decorate but momma used cedar boughs and  
Magnolia leaves in the arrangements of fresh flowers that were  
scattered throughout our home.  There was always a beautiful  
centerpiece for the tables in the kitchen and the dining room with  
plenty of bright colored candles and that wonderful accent of  
artificial snow from an aerosol can.

When David and I began bringing homemade creations from school,  
holiday parties and church activities, she added another tree in the  
family television area located in our basement and we could decorate  
that tree with whatever ornaments and handiwork we designed; there  
were no rules about the children’s tree.

Momma shopped for the newest designs in decorations and purchased  
countless strings of lights for the masterpiece tree.  She loved the  
bubbling lights but they did not work correctly if they were not kept  
level so they carefully wired each individual bubble-light to the  
limbs.  Tinsel, also known as silver icicles, was designed to hang on  
the end of the limbs but by the second and third years, after it has  
spent long months in storage in giant cardboard boxes, it was all  
crumbled up and not particularly attractive.  The new tinsel went on  
the living room tree and the crushed and wrinkled pieces were  
scattered on the other tree.

Once the decorations were completed and the gifts were being wrapped  
and displayed under the traditional tree, the making, cooking, and  
baking commenced.  I come from a long line of sugar-loving relatives  
and Christmas was when the ladies of the Scott family baked cakes,  
made candy and fashioned some of the finest desserts imaginable.

Aunt Inez made nut fingers that were sprinkled with confectioners’  
sugar and momma made rich chocolate fudge that was loaded with pecan  
pieces.  They knew the secret to beautiful divinity candy was not  
creating it during humid weather.

Nanny made fruit cake that was so rich you could only eat a small  
piece at a time but it is not what you think.  Ice-box fruit cake is a  
Southern tradition that tastes like candy because it is prepared with  
pecans, crushed vanilla wafers, Eagle brand condensed milk, raisins  
and a jar of red maraschino cherries; rather than being cooked, it is  
molded into a tube pan and refrigerated for several days while the  
flavors developed.

 

Brenda S. Brown 

 

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