Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Christmas Cookies

Mom’s Vintage Mirro Cooky Press, 1950

It’s Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2011 and today’s featured topic is – Christmas Cookies – and the questions are:

Did your family ancestors make Christmas Cookies? How did you help? Did you have a favorite cookie?

Making Christmas cookies is still a holiday tradition in our family! In fact, my mom pulls out her vintage 1950’s Mirro Cooky Press each year to make dozens of wonderful sugar, caramel, and peanut butter cookies for our family to enjoy for Christmas!

A variety of  cookie design disks came with mom’s cooky press. So when I asked my oldest brother, Elgin, which was his favorite Christmas cookie design, he said he didn’t have one.  All he wanted was to eat freshly baked cookies — hot from the oven!! Eating freshly baked Christmas cookies was a must for my brother Jon too, but design was more important to him. I understand from mom that he wanted all of our Christmas cookies to be in the shape of dogs! Dogs?! Yep, he sure did, but mom wasn’t having none of that!  Therefore she added Christmas trees, stars, and other festive shapes associated with Christmas with those dog cookies — LOL!

Mirro Cooky Cookbook, 1950

I don’t remember having a special cookie design growing up, but what I do remember is eating plenty cookie dough. Mom’s cookie dough (and cake dough too) was so-o-o-o good! When I recently asked her about sharing one of her cookie recipes for this post, she informed me that the cookies we loved so much came right from the cooky press cookbook that came with the press all those years ago. So if you’re in the mood for some great caramel cookies for the holidays, I posted the cookbook’s recipe for you below;  enjoy!

Caramel Cookies

Time: 10 – 12 mins
Temp: 375 F

1 cup of shortening
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp. of vanilla extract
3 3/4 cups of sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. of salt
1/2 tsp. of soda

Directions:
Cream shortening; add sugar gradually and cream thoroughly

Add beaten eggs and vanilla extract

Sift flour, soda, and salt gradually, then add to creamed mixture

Fill your Mirro Cooky press and form fancy designs on an ungreased cookie sheet (if you don’t have a cookie press, spoon cookie mixture instead on the cookie sheet)

Bake until cookies are a light golden brown; yields 6 dozen

Did your family ancestors make Christmas Cookies? Do you have a favorite Christmas cookie recipe? Then let me hear from you!

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Santa Claus

Visit with Santa 1957

Elgin & Jon visits Santa in 1957

It’s Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2011 and today’s featured topic is – Santa Claus! Did you ever send a letter to Santa? Did you ever visit Santa and “make a list?” Do you still believe in Santa Claus?

The concept of Santa Claus was a very BIG DEAL in my home during Christmas time. I had the pleasure of asking my brothers what they remember about Santa Claus, and this is what they had to say:

Elgin: I didn’t ever send Santa a letter, but I did enjoy visiting him when he came to town at our local department store. I truly believe it was the surprise element surrounding him that made believing in him a lot of fun. No, I don’t still believe in Santa today; I stopped believing in him at age 10.

Jon: No I didn’t write any letters or make any wish lists to Santa. I simply waited until I was able to sit on his lap and tell him what I wanted up close and personal. I really tried my best to stay awake to catch him in action, but whenever I would dose off for what felt like minutes, he would slip in and out of our home in record time. No, I no longer believe in Santa. I stopped believing in him when I turned 10.

Visit with Santa 1961

Liv visits Santa in 1961

For me just the thought that Santa was making a list , checking it twice to find out if I had been naughty or nice (yes I could be quite naughty at times) was probably enough to keep me on my best behavior  the whole month of December — LOL!! Like my brothers, I don’t recall sending letters to Santa either. And if truth be told, I wasn’t all that pleased to tell him anything I wanted for Christmas the first time I met him in 1961 – ROFL!!!

But it wasn’t long before the concept of Santa Claus began to stay with me and the thought of sitting on his lap telling him what I wanted for Christmas wasn’t so bad after all for me by 1962! I remember always staying up to see the 10 o’clock news report on Santa’s whereabouts on Christmas eve. Once they reported  when he was to arrive in the Houston area, I would hurry to bed because I couldn’t wait to see what goodies he would bring me on Christmas day . . . woo-hoo!

Visit with Satnat 1962

Liv visits Santa 1962

It seems one thing my brothers and I have in common is that we came to the realization that there was no Santa by the age of 10. Was I disappointed to learn there was no Santa? I was at first, but my disappointment didn’t last very long because the real reason for the season – the birth of Jesus Christ – became my family’s focus with our giving and celebrating Christmas with family and friends each and every year!

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: The Christmas Tree

Today is the first day of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2011!

So what is this online event about? Several genealogy bloggers in 2007 came up with the idea of creating an Advent Calendar that consist of different Christmas and holiday-related topics that would give genea-bloggers an opportunity to document and share how our families, and ancestors celebrated, or continue to celebrate Christmas.

Today’s featured topic is – The Christmas Tree – and the questions are:

Christmas, 1959

Elgin, Jon, and Me, Christmas 1959

Did you have a real tree or was it artificial? How big was the tree? Who decorated the tree? What types of Christmas trees did your ancestors have?

I would have to say that our family has experienced both – real and artificial trees for Christmas! My mom loved how a real Christmas tree made our home smell during the holidays. So it was a yearly ritual for dad to purchase a real pine or fir tree by the 16th of December for us to decorate. The size of our Christmas trees varied over the years. During those lean years when money was scarce, our trees were small and a bit skimpy (just check out the Christmas 1959 photo above). We had one box of ornaments and if more ornaments were needed, we simply made some out of  pine cones we found in the yard. We would spray the pine cones different colors, attach a thin thread to the top of them, and hang them on the tree. Sometimes we would decorate our trees with threaded popcorn; other times, we would decorate them with green and red garland with splashes of silver icicles for added pizzazz!

Christmas, 1982

Dad and my son Marcus, Christmas 1982

But when times got better for us financially, our real Christmas trees were larger, taller, fuller — decorated with ribbons, candy canes, and a variety of  handmade ornaments (just check out the Christmas 1982 photo to the right!)

Even though artificial trees were popular and considered cost effective, convenient, and better for our environment, we did not own one until I was a teenager. Since I was the last one to leave the nest for college,  my parents switched to an artificial table-top tree for the grand-babies to decorate, and passed our large artificial tree on to my oldest brother and his family to enjoy for the holidays. In fact, my brother just informed me that they still have our family’s first artificial Christmas tree and plan on decorating  it for this holiday season!

When I asked my mom what type of Christmas tree she had in her home as a child/teen growing up during 1928-1945,  I learned there were very few trees and gifts in her home at Christmas. The money that would have been used to purchase a tree and gifts was used to keep a roof over their heads and buy food to fill their tummies. She said there were times when she was disappointed because there was no tree, or gifts for Christmas. But her disappointment didn’t last very long because she and her family really had all that they needed for the holidays – love, peace, and joy and each other!

So. . .  what type of tree did you and/or your ancestors have in the home for Christmas? Let me hear from you!