My Favorite Winter Holiday
by Paty Jager
December 6, 2022
I would have to say my favorite winter holiday is Christmas, but not December 25th. That day is fun because we spend it with our kids and grandkids that are close by. It’s everything leading up to the day that I love.
First, there is my year-long quest when I’m out and about to discover something that is perfect for a member of the family or a friend to wrap up for their Christmas gift. Yes, you heard that right. I have stuff hidden in my closet from the first of the year that I wrap up and gift. When I see something I know someone on my list will love, I buy it, and wha-la! I now have one less Christmas gift to find later.
Second, I flip through cookbooks looking for one new thing to bake to add to the goodies I make every year and give to family, neighbors, and friends. I love baking cookies, small cakes, and making fudge. And I can’t forget the caramel corn. I’ve spoiled the people nearest and dearest to me with fattening treats every year. My favorite cookie to make are the gingerbread men. In years past, I have decorated a cookie for each member of the family. I worked hard at putting details on the cookies that would make them easily recognizable as certain family members. That was back when I seemed to have more hours in the day.
Here is my caramel corn recipe: It is so easy and tastes fantastic!
Paty’s Caramel Corn
Ingredients: 15 cups popped corn, 2 cups brown sugar, 1 cup butter, 1/2 cup light corn syrup, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp soda
Heat oven to 200 degrees. I put the popped corn in a deep-sided roasting pan, you can put it in 2 – 13x9x2 inch pans. In a saucepan, heat sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt, stiffing occasionally until bubbly around the edges. continue cooking over medium heat 5 minutes.
Remove from heat; stir in soda until foamy. Pour over popped corn and stir until the corn is well coated. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
Third, I enjoy making my house, inside and out, festive. When our kids lived at home, they helped me decorate. Now my mother-in-law who is at our house during Thanksgiving, helps me decorate along with grandkids. I love the colored and white lights. I string them on the outside of my house and the inside. They go along the porch roofs, the fence, and around windows. Inside they run along the windowsills, along the tall shelves in the living room, and wherever I can plug them in and make them stay. Poinsettias are my favorite flower. I try to have several real plants in the house during the holidays. They just make me smile when I see them, I don’t know why, they just do. I also started collecting snow globe-type table décor. They aren’t in the shape of globes but rather lanterns, trains, and such but they are battery operated and light up as well as keep the glitter circulating all the time. You don’t have to turn them over and shake to get the “snow” to move. I also have heirloom decorations that my mom made or belonged to my grandmother. I don’t have to have a cohesive look. I like the memories and ambiance of fun.
Fourth, my favorite part of Christmas is getting the tree. When our kids were young, we always went either up the river from my parent’s place when we visited during Thanksgiving or into the mountains not far from where we lived to cut down a tree in the forest. The trudging through snow, throwing snowballs, shaking snow on the person checking out a tree… all of it is fun. Now I enjoy tromping through the woods with grandkids, hunting for the perfect tree. One for me and one for their family. We take hot chocolate, sandwiches, sleds, and dogs. Sometimes we have to wait until really close to Christmas because there isn’t enough snow to have fun, but I don’t care, as long as we get to make that trek each year. The smell of the trees, the crisp air, and the delighted yells of the kids make my heart sing.
To me, Christmas day is anti-climactic. We are called when the grandkids wake up and head to our daughter’s house. Once we arrive and are settled with warm drinks in our hands, there is a flurry of presents being opened by the grandkids and a wonderful breakfast made by our daughter. The Santa gifts have been opened as well as their family gifts. We return home for some quiet and to prepare the Christmas dinner. They all arrive at our house, we eat, and then they open the gifts at our house for them. The adults and some of the older kids play cards and we have Christmas music or movies playing.
While I know the reason for the celebration on December 25th, I believe if you are celebrating with your family or friends or both, the reason is being exemplified in your life.
Happy holidays everyone!
Award-winning author Paty Jager and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. On her road to publication she wrote freelance articles for two local newspapers and enjoyed her job with the County Extension service as a 4-H Program Assistant. Raising hay and cattle, riding horses, and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Her penchant for research takes her on side trips that eventually turn into yet another story. Learn more about her at her website.