Monday, December 10, 2007
Birthdays and Treats
Even without the photos we all enjoyed the Duchess Tea which came with a pot of tea of our choice and a three-tiered tray of delectable treats: finger sandwiches, chocolate cake, shortbread, Queen Mum's cake, sponge cake layered with jam and cream and sprinkled with powdered sugar, and a wonderful scone with butter, jam, and clotted cream on the side. Wow! I can see that Duchess Tea is to be enjoyed only once-a-year at most!
So, given the abundance of "treatage" that surrounds me - and everyone else at this time of year - I was out walking this morning trying to burn up a little of that clotted cream! It's such a challenge to find the time, it seems. Right now, I mentally had planned that I would be standing in line at the post office getting my packages out before the line grows obscenely long. But, Eve has not gotten into the shower yet and so here I sit. But at least I got the walk in this morning.
On the way home from tea I was talking to Mom about the difference in the holiday season now from holiday seasons past. I think it was Bill McKibben who wrote in Hundred Dollar Holiday about how it used to be that Thanksgiving and Christmas were the one time of the year when rich foods were eaten. People had worked physically hard all year and were now ready to celebrate the harvest and sit down and feast!! And deservedly so
I was telling Mom that I really wished I could experience that mentality, because it really is absent from the modern life. We don't even have to lift a finger or reach out a hand very far to enjoy various confections daily from all around the world. Mocha latte with whipped cream and chocolate shavings... in June? Sure thing! No problem. Cheesecake? Would you like that frozen from the grocery store or fresh from the bakery case? How about down the street at the nearest restaurant? There is abundance all around us. In fact, my mental state regarding food during the holidays is not really sitting down to feast, but thinking more about having just a little bit of everything and just a little taste of dessert, because, truthfully, there was the plate of cookies at the Bible study two nights ago and there was the eggnog coffee at the knitting group the other night and on and on. The rich food is just there. Always.
I'm not complaining. I'm just saying that it must have been something - really something - to have Christmas coming years and years ago. It must have been special to look forward to food that you haven't eaten all year long. When I look through all the delectable recipes in the book The Pioneer Lady's Country Christmas (such a wonderful book!!), I want to make all these homemade, delicious goodies. But I also wonder who will want them? I know plenty of folks who are watching their waistlines and cholesterol levels and blood pressure, etc. etc. And for good cause.
I don't want to be a Scrooge about food. We're going to make some gingerbread cookies and sugar cookies to pass along to family and friends. I found a recipe for Turkish Delight that is part of my British heritage and part of my own curiosity peaked by Edmund's greedy craving of it in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I enjoy baking during the holidays and I love a good candy cane. I just know that there is still a large stash of Halloween candy still in my children's bedrooms around here. Halloween treats that once-upon-a-time would have been long gone, because they would have been homemade popcorn balls, caramels, or cookies that wouldn't have a year-long shelf life and we would know the people from whom the treats came and we would have trusted them to give our children something good and safe to eat.
I understand the why's of what we do today and the necessity of much of it. But at this time of year, especially, when tradition hangs thick in the air, I cannot help but wax nostalgic just a little bit... or even a lot. :)