A Sentiment

God knew what He was doing when He sent a gentle breeze and brought a lovely butterfly to set my heart at ease. The happiness of your friendship and the gentleness of your words have touched my life in special ways and now I feel assured. Thank you for your loyalty and for reading everyday. I only hope you find things to make a happy day.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Child's First Memory of Christmas

My first real memories of Christmas... where I actually remember things and not the stories that I was told by my family, was the Christmas when I was 5 yrs. old. World War ll was raging across the ocean and Mom and I were all alone. She was doing the best she could to make ends meet. We lived in a rented, $35 a month, bungalow in Elgin, Illinois. We didn't have a car, but we lived close to a grocery, Church, and my school. The bus stopped on the corner across the street. It was all very convenient for us. My Mom had a part-time job in the yard goods dept. of Ackemann's Department store. She would take the bus to work, after she got me off to school. I stayed with various baby sitters till she got home. She had a best friend in the same situation. It was decided that the friend and her small boy would move in with us to make it easier. They came with the bare essentials but had an electric toaster. Oh, how I loved that toaster. A Toastmaster toaster. I could pop bread in at any time and it would be toasted to perfection. No more burned toast. Mom would make me a treat...a piece of toast with sugar on it. Well, Christmas was coming and the men wouldn't be coming home. I can vaguely remember packing a box for my Dad and sending it off. I was sent to the store with an older girl...to buy sugar. In those days of rationing...sugar was hard to come by. On the way home, I dropped the sugar and it spilled all over the ground. When I told my Mom...she cried. She and a neighbor had just been given some free Crisco. It came in jars during the war and this box had been dropped and the jars were broken. The neighbor's husband worked for Proctor and Gamble....the manufacturer of Crisco. Crisco's slogan during the war was...“Tin Goes to War—Crisco Goes to Glass” I remember my Mom straining the melted Crisco through an old pair of nylon stockings...and using it. We were short on Christmas cookies that year...maybe just one kind and fudge....Mom's fudge was the best. She worked so hard, keeping up with the bills and taking care of me. Her light was on late into the night while she worked on doll clothes for an old doll of mine. She had everything ready and wrapped and under the tree, when she finally went to bed in the wee hours of the morning. It was still dark out, when I woke up. I sneaked out of our room and went into the living room. I turned on the Christmas tree and underneath were some presents for me. I proceeded to open them...one by one. In the last package was a xylophone, the only gift that my Mom had purchased. I loved it. Plink, plink, plink I went on this wonderful musical gift. My Mom was awakened by the sound. She came into the room and saw me playing with my new toy. She stood there crying...I hadn't waited for her, and after all her work. I don't remember her getting mad, but she must have been so hurt. I had myself a Merry Little Christmas...as the song goes...all by myself.
Mom's Fudge
2 cups sugar
2 squares chocolate (2 oz.)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon corn syrup
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cook together the sugar, chocolate, salt, corn syrup, and milk until it forms a soft ball when a teaspoonful is put in a cup of cold water. On the candy thermometer this is 238°F. Stir gently to avoid scorching.
Just before removing it from the stove, add butter. Cool without stirring until the bottom of the dish is barely warm to the touch. On the candy thermometer this is 120°F.
Add vanilla and beat until the candy begins to lose its shiny look.
Pour into a well-greased pan. When firm, cut in squares.
Yield: 1 1/4 pounds.
Mom would put nutmeats in her fudge, when she had them. She also cut up marshmallows (no minis at that time, but she never did use the minis...always cut up big ones) and put those in. It was always my job to help with the beating. She said that it made a better fudge if it was beaten with a wooden spoon. She always poured her fudge into a greased, 8 in. pyrex pie pan. The little "corners" were mine...if I helped with the beating. That pie pan turned a brownish color after many batches of fudge over the years. She lost the pan in moving and I found her another one at a garage sale, but it just wasn't the same. I think that in her old age...she had lost her knack for making fudge. She would call me and say that she was going to make fudge and I would tell her to wait till I got there to help. We just couldn't get it to turn out...like it used to.


azplantlady said...

What a precious memory, Balisha. I enjoy all of your stories very much, but I think this one is my favorite. Merry Christmas!

Elenka said...

I loved your story....I always say, it's a good thing we have 'memories' or else all this wonderful information would be lost forever. Thank you for sharing.