Memories And Grogg

Keepers of Christmas generally have a rich store of memories to draw upon when they build a new Christmas each year. We hold on to family traditions that grow more and more precious with the passage of time. Cherished are the memories we fondly recall, bits & pieces of Christmas past … loved ones who are no longer with us, special gifts you gave and received, and very likely one particularly brilliant memory that for some reason wears a crown in your Christmas memories book.

One of my very early holiday memories is making clove-studded orange pomanders with my grandmother. I sat at my usual post in the kitchen – a cutting board that pulled out from the counter. An old red & white kitchen stool was taller than the chairs and just right for a wee lassie like me. By teaching me an ancient holiday craft, my grandma, Bernice, contributed to what would grow into a very long list of wonderful childhood memories.

I’m blessed to have so many sentimental holiday memories, but I’ll share one with you that turned out to be humorous … well, not to my father until the “crisis” had passed. While “Santa” delivered our presents on Christmas Eve, we had to leave the house so that he would come. It was explained that he arrived in Wyoming a little early because he had so far to go that night. I now know it also had a lot to do with my folks deciding that keeping little kids in bed until Christmas morning was a losing proposition. My mother, the cook, would also be in much better shape the next day if she’d gotten a good night’s sleep.

Everyone knows the sinking feeling you get after reading on a boxed purchase, “some assembly required”. The reason that everyone can relate to the anxiety I describe is because the “warning” on the box label is oft times a profound understatement. This happened to be the case one Christmas at our house many years ago. My little brother had asked for a new “banana” bike and sure enough it was tucked away in Santa’s bag. Well, more accurately, it was a box full of bike parts. As everyone knows, dads are designated Santa’s helpers and so are grandpas when the need arises.

Our little hamlet, a western-style “cowpoke Hooterville”, claims 800 souls for the population. The Christmas tradition at our house was to drive around and look at all the Christmas lights in town while Santa was at our house unloading gifts. It took 20 minutes if you really stretched out the tour. This night, it was an hour and a half ordeal. Santa’s helpers were having a booger of a time putting my brother’s bike together! We stopped back at the house several times to check on the progress. Not known to us, dad and grandpa were a little stressed and maybe a little cranky. The same was true of our chauffeurs (mom and grandma) because their passengers had exceeded their patience level 30 minutes into the tour. All challenges eventually get worked out and so did my brother’s bike project. That Christmas was to be like many others, chock full of memories and laughter, good food, and family get-togethers.

Families change and grow and as they do, we get to add to the cache of holiday treasures. We adjust to the changes and work around our kids having children of their own and their need to make sure they can visit everyone on the other side of the family equation sometime during the holidays. The blessed complexity is just part of the fullness of Christmas. I wouldn’t have it any other way, would you? The part that makes all the busyness easier for me to deal with is a quiet place I can go anytime during the holiday rush. I revisit a crude, little stable long ago where the only noises were the hushed voices of a handful of people, animals eating their hay and the cooing of a newborn baby.

I hope this holiday season gives you wonderful new memories that will mingle perfectly with your favorite golden oldies. From my barn to yours … Merry Christmas and Peace to you. I also want to share this simple recipe for my favorite hot ‘grogg’. It is especially good if you’re out & about in the cold…when hunting for a Christmas tree, caroling, skiing, or ice-fishing!

Cowgirl Grogg

Mix these ingredients to suit your own taste:

Hot coffee, Kahlua, a dash of peppermint flavoring (or peppermint schnapps), hot cocoa mix and table cream. Make it by the cup or mix up a hot batch and take it with you in a thermos.

  1. Cheri says:

    OMG- this is my year all the time. My parents made it UNFORGETTABLE! SO i have huge Christmas Stress that I induce on myself. While I have toned it down a bit, as the kids are now 15 and 19, I was still baking cookies before my daughter went to school this morning. The candy was done, but pep band, finals etc had prevented cookies from being baked. My daughter’s teachers truly deserve a sweet treat in appreciation for all their caring. They used to get delivered on hand-painted plates . Now to finish that quilt before next Thursday afternoon.

  2. Grace~katmom says:

    Oh Shery,
    Thank you for the lovely trip down your "Memory Lane"…I so enjoyed it and especially your 5th paragraph. So glad you are proud of your faith when todays society is soooo trying to be P.C. about Christmas…Bless you.
    Oh and we have a tradition that we carry on (German) and that is we serve Ghulwein this time of year as it is a wonderful yummy warmer-upper…it is warmed up red wine infused with spices(nutmeg, clove, cinnamom) and topped off with a wedge of orange. So yummy on a snowy day.
    Don’t you just love traditions!
    Merry Christmas & God Bless

  3. Nancy says:

    I love the beauty of your prose and your eye for detail in nature. I am doing a little bit of the same idea in a blog, too. But I have to say that yours is an exquisite model to use as a pattern! Love the grogg recipe! I will be making some this holiday season.

  4. Kimberly D says:

    I was 3 years old and Santa came to my house Christmas eve, but while we were still up to see if we were good. I ran to the kitchen to tell my Mom, and she didn’t believe me. I had to bring Santa to the kitchen for her to see him. Years later I fine out it was our neighbor. But I still remember Santa coming to my house, fondly.

  5. The rule in our house was that no one could find what Santa had put in the stocking that was delivered to our bedroom door until it was six o’clock am.

    I was not a good sleeper on Christmas Eve..or even in the wee hours of Christmas morning. I have no idea how Santa managed to get the jingling stocking propped up against my door without getting caught at it.

    What I did on one such sleepless overnight was to go frequently into the bathroom where my father always hung his prized Hamilton watch (awarded on his 25th year in his business) on a hook on the door jamb. I could tip the face of the watch to see if it was six o’clock yet. I did this. Often. All night long. BUT at about four am I managed to unhook that watch when I tipped it to see, and it smashed on the tile floor.

    This was a disaster. Really a disaster. I cried, standing there, cried with grief and shame and true misery. I was not afraid of my father, but I was afraid of the loss of the watch for my father. It was, as far as I knew, his most prized possession. And I had ruined it. Smashed to pieces.

    I couldn’t stand it. I went in at that early hour and awakened my father, burst into tears, confessed my terrible act, buried myself in his arms and sobbed out my sorrows.

    I am sure it took a long while for my sleepy parents to figure out what to do with this inauspicious beginning of our happy day. But they figured it out. I saw the new watch-face and hands going around as they should in the next few days, to my enormous relief.

    I have no idea what I got that Christmas, other than a whole lot of love.


  6. I am going to make a batch of your fabulous grogg tomorrow. Heck, maybe every day this week! Thanks for the sweet reminder of orange pomanders. I love making those. Happy Holidays to you at the Ranch!

  7. You reminded me of so many great holdays at home. My mom always made Christmas so special.I have many great memories. Thanks

  8. Laurel says:

    Sherry thank you so much for the remembrance and for reminding all of us that it is more important to take time with the Babe in the Manger.

    And Susan thanks for sharing your story it was heartwarming.

    Merry Christmas All, Laurel

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