After all, I spent most of 2018 answering the same question from the Kroger cashiers, “Did you find everything you needed?”
My answer was always, “No. You didn’t have white fudge Oreos,” after which I’d usually get a puzzled look. Once or twice the nice cashier said, “Yeah, those are really good. I think they are a Christmas item.” Indeed. But when I found them, I exercised notable restraint by buying only three boxes: one for me, one for my grandkids to give me for my birthday, and one for a friend with whom I have a reciprocal arrangement – if I see them I get him a box and he does the same for me. Thus, ended up with all three boxes. I have perfected the Oreo trifecta. Quite an accomplishment, I would modestly assert.
But I have zero respect for anyone who goes for the cheap and industrial Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes. “Highly processed!” screams one nutrition analysis. Ya think?
Christmas brings all kinds of great food. In one of my churches the deacons and wives would load the van and take a trip, with their beloved pastor and wife as guests, to a restaurant in the western NC mountains. The restaurant had a bit of a thing with country ham. “The ham what am” they advertised and you could eat all you want. After several years we were there once again, seated and served, enjoying the good old super salty ham. I don’t think there is an American with a sodium deficit but if there were, it could be demolished in less than an hour consuming that ham. The deacon chairman, a great guy who dined con gusto every Christmas, asked the server for another round of ham.
“Sorry,” the server answered. “We don’t do it that way any longer.” She didn’t say it but the message was, “This is all you get.”
The deacon almost shot out of his chair but stifled his indignation. Needless to say (and I’m sure you could see this coming), in less than the time it takes a pig to oink the ‘ham what am’ became ‘the ham what ain’t.’ True story without a bit of ministerial embellishment. We never went back.
In all the years I pastored and attended Christmas events, the finger foods, the dinners, the luncheons I don’t recall that anyone brought a dish of homemade ambrosia. Ambrosia was a specialty of my mother and her mother before her. Both were well ahead of their time in that the dish was single source (they got all the ingredients at the grocery store) and natural, though I don’t know how a cherry, tangerine wedge, hand-shredded coconut or the other fruit in the dish could not be natural. They grow the stuff, right? It was a great treat that took a lot of tedious hand preparation. Haven’t had it in 20 years or so just thinking about it and makes me miss my wonderful mother. Not a church dish, I suppose. Maybe it has to do with it being ‘food of the gods.’
Around my house, when Christmas approaches a sign goes up in the kitchen: “Touch not these confections.” My wonderful wife gets to baking and she is really good at it. I linger on the margins hoping for a discarded crust or a flawed item, a reject to be tossed my way. Since our kids are out of the house and the dog died, I’m first in line. Sweet.
Once I moved close to home and dear old Mom no longer went out to shop, she would call me around Christmas, and say, “How about going to the store and picking out a nice standing rib roast. They’re on sale.” And they would always be marked down around Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’d dutifully go and scan the meat display. I have no idea what a good rib roast looks like but I’d just say, “I’ll take that triple bypass one in the middle there.” Mom would pay for it, a decent chunk of grocery money, but always end up saying, “Oh, you take it home for your family.”
You’ve got family and church Christmas food stories. Share them.
The postoperative Dave Miller told me to stick with the heavy stuff. Trust me, everything in this article is heavy.
No, that’s not wine in the picture. It’s grape juice.