I love traditions. I grew up with quite a few family ones – particularly Christmas traditions. However, as I’ve gotten older (I didn’t say ‘old’) I’ve realized that changing those traditions or adding to them can be ‘traditional’ in and of itself. Does that make sense? I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve realized it’s OK to do some things differently. Things evolve. And living in Niger, I’ve had to do that. Allow traditions to evolve.
When I was a kid, we always used to go and pick out our fresh Christmas tree and cut it down. I’m pretty sure I didn’t do much of the cutting but it sure seemed like I did. We’d get the tree home and Dad would set it up and get the lights put on it. But we were never allowed to turn the lights on until the whole tree was decorated. Plugging in the lights was the final event to the decorating day. We would all put the ornaments on together – while remembering the previous decorating year. Then we had the countdown. All 6 dogs would be included – everyone sitting together around the tree. We’d count backwards from 10 and then Dad would plug in the lights. Ahhhhhh. Ooooohhh. It really was spectacular.
One tradition I loved took place with my Grandma. Every year she would give me a box of chocolate covered cherries and at some point, I started giving her a box as well. Wrapped. Under the tree. She also got me a Guideposts subscription which I loved. But I loved those cherries. Too much. Wonder why I didn’t get sick on them like I did the Butterfingers. (That’s another story but I’ll just say that after we shared of 6-pack of giant sized Butterfingers during a night of Bingo I cannot eat them til today.)
The cherries come out in the stores at Christmastime. But I live in Niger. I can assure you that store bought CCC will not be found here. One summer while I was in the US I was browsing through a Minnesota Cookbook. You’ll not believe the recipe that caught my eye. Yep – CCC. I of course bought the book. Back in Niger, the next challenge was going to be to get the maraschino cherries. Not to worry. We have visitors that come throughout the year, and if I can be organized enough I can ask them to bring me cherries. I am happy to say that for at least the past 10 years I have had maraschino cherries straight from the US. Making the cherries is pretty simple once you get the ‘feel’ for it. The filling is simply powdered sugar, butter and cream or milk. I add some cherry juice for some of the milk, as well as some almond extract if I have it.
This is something the kids have always helped me with. This year I only had one kid to help. But I have to say that he did amazingly well. Hung with it to the end. Here he is now. Mixing the filling and enjoying it!
One must watch Tobi very closely….
Next comes the chocolate. I know. But someone’s gotta do it.
The finished product.
I believe I’ll go have one right now (yep, we still have a few left!)