Always one to appreciate the many traditions of the season, decorating remains my most cozy memory with my family. As traditionalists we did not display or light the decorations until the Friday after Thanksgiving. Of course, we started with the outdoor lights, decorating the front bushes, and hanging lights along the gutters. Waiting until dark to adjust the lights was fun with a cup of hot chocolate to ease the cold as we ventured out to assess any need for correction with the many voices vying for their opinion to be heard. We had a long ranch house with the need for many lights, and lots of viewpoints as to their arrangement.
Next, we moved indoors to begin the more cherished self-expression for each of the children. Each of the three children had their own 3 1/2-foot tree. This was a tradition that most moved me, to see their personal expression of Christmas joy for the holiday. Lights were the first on, followed by their “favorite of the year” ornaments and any other adornments they chose to make the tree their own.
We lived in the house next door to the children’s grandparents from the time they were infants through most of high school. The tree in front of the picture window began as a tradition of my mother when I was a child, and we continued the tradition in our home. Decorating the tree with lights was the adult contribution. The children put the bulbs on and threw the icicles on making for a rather exciting interpretation of the snow effect.
Last, but not least, we made cookies to both eat and hang on the tree. Pizzelles, an Italian tradition, are crisp, flat waffle-esque cookies made in with a special hot iron. Cuccidati are traditional Sicilian cookies stuffed with figs. Flaky, rich, and delicious, they consist of flour, sugar, eggs, butter, and milk, while the filling is a combination of dried figs, raisins, dates, honey, chocolate, walnuts, and selected spices. Bow tie cookies, for lack of a better name, are a fried, slightly sweetened dough turned to appear as angel wings, and tastes just as heavenly, especially with drizzled honey and a dusting of powdered sugar and sprinkles!
Our fun came after the children went to bed. Each year, the presents got more complex to assemble and required both of us, one to read the directions and sort the parts and the other to assemble. Putting these masterpieces under the tree was the sign that Santa had visited