This post is written by contributing writer Debra of Worth Cooking.
A Family Full of Christmas Traditions
Growing up, December was crammed full of Christmas traditions. We had so many it was crazy. Part of it was having so many people, there were 10 of us and we all had the things that were important to us. We would rarely finish off the leftover Thanksgiving Turkey before they started.
There was reading Jotham’s Journey, an advent story. Then there was the blasting Christmas music, hot cocoa, and tree/house decorating anywhere from a few weeks to a few days before Christmas.
From there we would be busy making Christmas gifts on the sly, and Christmas goodies together.We would keep many for ourselves to enjoy on Christmas day and the days following and we would also pass them out to friends.
The night with the most traditions was Christmas Eve, even more than Christmas day. It would start with reading the Christmas story and acting it out. Our family was far from small so there were plenty to act out the angel, donkey, sheep, and of course Mary and Joseph.
Then came eggnog- each person’s slightly different. Hannah wanted just milk, Elizabeth wanted maraschino cherries, I wanted mine cut with milk as I found it too rich straight, etc.
As we sipped our tailor made eggnogs Mom and Dad would hand out the Christmas eve presents. We waited in suspense as they were all handed out, then ripped into them together. To our delighted “surprise” they were stockings or slippers. On they went and we stuck out our newly adorned feet for the all important “foot photo.” I found out when I was older there were some people out there that did not take a family foot photo as part of Christmas Eve. Strange people.
Christmas morning, when it FINALLY ARRIVED, brought even more traditions. The Christmas stockings stuffed with fruit and hot cocoa, the perfect little presents sitting beside them, the large family gifts– games, history DVDs, science experiments, DVD player, Wii…
We begun playing with our new gifts immediately as we waited for everyone in the family to wake up. Waking the resident baby and/or toddler was strictly prohibited so we had plenty of time to enjoy our stocking gifts.
Unwrapping the gifts was a chaotic event and the squeals were even louder and shriller then you could expect from a family with seven girls (and one boy). It took maybe half an hour for everyone to see how their gifts were received, to get excited over their fun new gifts, and the floor to be covered a foot deep in colorful wrapping paper.
We would begin stuffing the paper into large bags as my Dad went to go make breakfast – sausage stuffed apples.
Breakfast was usually the bigger meal of the day. We never really did a big Christmas dinner. Occasionally if we were having another family over, but usually it was beef stew (yum!) and tons of snacks and several different kinds of homemade candies. Bourbon nuts, peanut butter candies, ganache if I could convince my mom, and usually a new recipe or two (three, four, five).
Making Christmas Treats as a Family
Slowly but surely we are incorporating some of the traditions I grew up with into our little family’s Christmas. The foot photo and Jotham’s Journey will probably have to wait a few years but one I have looked forward to for the last couple of years as my kids are getting “older” (5,3, & 1) is the tradition of making Christmas treats together. The kids really enjoy making treats with me, and my three-year-old absolutely loves serving treats to others.
Most of the recipes I grew up with though, aren’t an option for our family any more as my daughter’s diet is quite restricted. No fudge, bourbon nuts, or peanut butter candies sadly. But, we are figuring our way around that as I come up with recipes that really work for us. The ideal recipes for carrying on this tradition are easy so my kids can really get involved, quick so as to be done within a little one’s attention span, and are fine for my gluten / dairy / egg / soy / coconut / honey / peanut / etc. -free daughter. whew!
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I have come up with a few Christmas treats over the years, and these Chocolate “Gingerbread” Truffles are perhaps the easiest. They are so easy that my kids — at three and five — were able to do a large chunk of it. They can help me pit dates, measure ingredients, and they are quite good at rolling the mixture into balls and into the cocoa.
The combination of chocolate and spices is absolutely delicious and the dates in them give it a fun chewy texture. Even my husband, who is usually big on the sweets but shy on the praise, said they were delicious about 20 times as he helped me “taste test” the first batch. This batch the kids scarfed down in no time! I will probably have to quadruple it to have enough to share at large family Christmas gatherings!Print
- 1/3 c. pecans
- 8 oz. medjool dates, pitted
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 rounded tsp. ginger powder
- 1/2 rounded tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 c.+ mini chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life to be dairy and soy free)
- Organic palm shortening or butter if not dairy free
- Cocoa powder, coconut flakes, chopped chocolate ect. to roll the truffles in
- In a food processor blend together the pecans, dates, vanilla, and spices until everything is well chopped and comes together in a ball.
- Add 1/2 cup chocolate chips and blend in until the friction melts them (another minute or two).
- Grease a 9×9 or similar size pan with the butter/shortening. Spread the chocolate mixture into it and pat down until even and smooth. If desired sprinkle with chocolate chips and press in, this adds a fun texture to the truffles.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to firm up. Cut into small squares, I did a 5×5 grid so 25 balls.
- Roll each square of the mixture into a ball. Roll in cocoa, chopped pecans, coconut, chopped nuts ect. whatever floats your boat.
- Serve straight out of the fridge for a firmer truffle or at room temperature for a soft and slightly sticky one.
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View the recipe on Plan to Eat HERE.