Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Thrill is Gone and a Lesson in Butter

Why is it that as a child everything seems so much bigger, happier, fancier, more fun? Around the holidays I always think back to how exciting the Christmas was to me as a child. I grew up with a single-mom who never had a lot of money but we still had really nice holidays thanks to several generous aunts and uncles as well as grandparents. For years, my mom’s brother would go chop down a real Christmas tree for us. We’d decorate it with an assortment of Wal-Mart ornaments and things my brother and I made in school. My mom made lots of fudge and peanut butter balls and we ate way too much summer sausage and cheese. My grandparents would always take us to this church-sponsored Christmas light thing, where you could sit on Santa’s lap and ride around in a little train and look at the religious-themed light displays. There were Christmas concerts as school, velvet dresses, stockings at our house and our grandparents house, so much food and general excitement over the impending holiday. Because we were ‘children of divorce’ we had several different stops to make. Christmas Eve was spent at my absentee father’s parent’s home, were we ate with extended family and got to open presents. Christmas morning was spent at our house, waking up at the crack of dawn to tear into our gifts. Christmas day we went to our maternal grandparents and to our great-grandparent’s home until they passed away. My grandmother, Nannie, made tons of pies with names like “Millionaire Pie” and “Chess Pie”. My brother and I were the only grandchildren for 13 years so we had 13 years of pestering everyone to hurry up and eat so we could open our gifts.

These days my great-grandparents and both of my grandfathers have long since passed away. I’m married and live 45 minutes away, my brother and I gave up our ‘only grandchildren’ status to our twin cousins, now 13, and their sister, almost 10. I really love Christmas, and every year since I moved out on my own I’ve done my best to enjoy it. Tons of decorating, baking like there’s no tomorrow, faithfully watching my favorite Christmas movies and television specials, but nothing seems to recapture those same feelings I had as child. I hope that when I have children of my own I can create those memories with them and maybe recapture some of those old feelings.

Now, about the butter, I was craving some home-baked goodness last night and decided to bake a batch of chocolate-chip cookies with a recipe on the back of the Ghirardelli chocolate chip bag. Now I should have known I was in for trouble when the recipe called for 2 sticks of butter, yes 2 sticks! Instead I happily ignored it, mixed up the batter and ended up with a lovely batch of chocolate chips and pecans surrounded by a melted pool of buttery batter. I ate one and immediately felt my arteries clogging. Next time I’ll know, don’t use 2 sticks of butter no matter what the bag says.

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