My Christmas post has been delayed for several reasons, but mostly because I want to write about traditions, and every time I start, I get “Family Traditions” by Hank Williams Jr. stuck in my head and I have to go stick my head in the microwave do something else to get it out.
I think traditions, and peoples’ varying levels of commitment to them, are fascinating. We had tons in my family growing up. They weren’t huge, grandiose traditions like trips or big gifts or Griswold – inspired decorations. There were small, sentimental things – like my father reading me The Night Before Christmas EVERY Christmas Eve until I moved out (come to think of it, even after I left home – just this year he left the first few lines on my voicemail on Christmas Eve), or the engraved ornament he gets me every year with the date and “love daddy” on it somewhere, or the 2 lb box of See’s Candy my grandmother brought or sent every year. There are traditions that have carried on into my adulthood and ones that we’ve let fall by the wayside (or skip a few years here and there). Of course, there are my husband’s family traditions to incorporate and new ones of our own to make [side note: continually saying “my husband” whenever I mention him is getting really annoying, so I’m going to refer to him as B from now on].
The traditional food has changed through the years depending on the number of people at the table. This year it was a prime rib, growing up it was always turkey with all the fixin’s, in B’s house it was turkey AND ham if the whole family was there. At Christmas, we always made my great-grandmother’s Pecan Crunch recipe in lieu of typical pies. This year, since my mom is a little under the weather, I finally learned how to make it (I know, it’s truly pathetic that I’ve made it to my mid-thirties without knowing such a key family recipe).
Last but not least, this year’s ornament from dad (and it is really to me from him, even if he bucked his own tradition by including B, my mom, and of course, their cat Bubba). I have 34 of these, all different. I think it’s my favorite of all the traditions. What’s yours?
Grandma Matty’s Pecan Crunch
3 egg whites
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 c of sugar
11 graham crackers (crushed) (1/2 crackers)
1 c of chopped pecans
1 tsp vanilla
about 1 cup whipping cream, whipped
(about 2 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp vanilla added)
Beat egg whites & baking powder untill stiff – add sugar gradually.
Stir in cracker crumbs, nuts & vanilla.
Pour into a well buttered pie pan (or 8×8 square glass pan if you prefer).
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes
When cool top with whipped cream
Make the crunch part a day before and top with the whipped cream the morning before you plan to serve it…it makes for the best texture.