my favorite things, holiday-style!

The holiday season always calls forth nostalgia. Every sound, smell, and classic television show remind me of the joy Christmas held as a young girl. Growing up, the month of December was such a wonderful time on the farm, one filled with once-a-year treats, snow-filled play outdoors, and special times with family. And as a mother, I now experience the same sense of magic and wonder through my son’s eyes. With a greater array of goodies and programs and incessant marketing of bigger, better, more, I prefer to stick with the basics, those things which bring a smile to my face year after year. I’ve compiled a list of My Favorite Holiday Things, some from long-ago and others from present day. And though it is difficult to choose just one, I did my best.
 
CHILDREN’S BOOK
MOVIE
Family-friendly: The Polar Express
TV SHOW
SONG
This O Holy Night, but I do enjoy most Christmas music, regardless of genre/artist. 
ACTIVITY
Away: Gingerbread Display at The Grove Park Inn followed by cocktails in the Great Hall (Asheville, NC)
Home: Tucking my son in on Christmas Eve after my husband reads Twas the Night Before Christmas to the family
DECORATION
The nativity from my childhood. I remember constantly moving the pieces around as if they were dolls. My sister now owns it, carrying on the tradition with her two young daughters playing the same way she and I once did. Love how the magic of something so simple continues organically.
MEAL
Spaghetti and Meat sauce prepared by my mom on Christmas Eve
APPETIZER
Texas Caviar (Recipe to follow)
DRINK
piping hot Tom and Jerry while sitting by the fire with my husband 
CANDY
Peanut Butter Balls (Recipe to follow)
COOKIE
Aunt Noreen’s Santa Sugar Cookie (sorry no recipe, you need to find your own through forty plus years of trial and error like I did)
BAR
Carmelitas (my husband’s fave-Recipe to follow)
 
I hope you have memories which keep you smiling, traditions passed from generation to generation, and the promise of miracles and love around you as well.
 
Do you have a Favorite Holiday Thing? Please share, especially if it’s of the food or drink variety!
 
TEXAS CAVIAR
Dressing:
3/4 cup cider vinegar
3/4-1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/2-1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1-2 Tablespoon water (optional)
 
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and boil. Let cool. It doesn’t “taste” until boiled and cooled. Follow recipe.
 
Salad:
1 can black-eyes peas, drained
1 can black beans, drained
1 can pinto beans with or without jalapeno, drained
1 can mild chili beans, rinsed and drained
1-2 cans shoe-peg corn, drained
1 small jar pimentos, chopped and drained
1 small red onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup green peppers, chopped
 
When the dressing is at room temp, pour over the rest of the ingredients. Marinate overnight. When ready to serve, drain with slotted spoon and serve with Fritos Scoops. NOTE: this recipe is easy to adapt to your tastes and gets better the longer it marinates!
 
PEANUT BUTTER BALLS
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 pound powdered sugar
2 cups chunky peanut butter
2 1/2-3 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 giant Hershey chocolate candy bar
6 oz chocolate chips
1/2 bar paraffin wax
 
Combine powdered sugar, rice krispies. Mix in butter, peanut butter, and vanilla. Use hands if necessary. Roll into little balls. Melt candy bar, chocolate chips, and wax in double boiler. Dip balls into chocolate and leave to harden on wax paper. Makes approx. 3 dozen.
 
CARMELITAS
1 cup flour
1 cup instant oatmeal, uncooked
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup melted butter
6 ounces chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts
12.25 ounce jar caramel ice cream topping
3 Tablespoons flour
 
Combine flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, soda, salt, and melted butter. Press one-half of crumb mixture into a greased 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts on hot crumbs. Combine caramel topping and flour and pour back and forth to cover mixture in pan. Sprinkle remaining crumbs over top. Bake an additional 15 minutes. Chill. Cut into squares.
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