The other day Mom asked me what I would say if someone asked me about my Christmas traditions. Since no one has ever asked me this question, I had never really considered it and brushed the question off with an “I don’t know.” But then her words got me thinking. What are my Christmas traditions? Do I have any at all? What makes my holidays special? There has to be something . . . right?
The more I thought and Mom and I talked about it, the more traditions that came to mind. The amazing display of inside decorations is a pretty good place to start. Every year I look forward to seeing all my old favorites make their return and new additions get displayed for the first time, as Dad bemoans the fact that we are running out of space. We turn the decorations on as soon as we get up on Christmas morning and leave them on all day. The motorized ornaments and singing Hallmark stuffed animals the perfect soundtrack for our festivities.
Then there’s the fact that we don’t travel for the holiday any longer. My parents are the most important people in my life and I in theirs, so there is simply no better way to spend the day than with each other, avoiding the hassle of travelling and the drama of a huge crowd. We open presents on Christmas morning, then spend some time investigating them. Among my treasures is always the annual Swarovski snowflake ornament. I began collecting them quite a few years ago and hope one day perhaps I can complete the collection with the earlier missing ornaments. I take Christmas off (okay this year you’ll probably see a couple Tweets from me), not even turning my computer on.
Mom and I always bake something. I truthfully don’t know what it will be this year, but there is always some yummy treat that fills the kitchen. And we always have steak. In a house where Mom and I are always eating fish and Dad rotisserie chicken, it is nice to sit down to a meal of red meat, all of us for once enjoying the same food. This year we’re thinking filet mignon. No one cooks filet better than Mom, not even fancy steakhouses.
The best part about our traditions is that they evolve with us. As we change, so do our traditions. Perhaps the biggest and best tradition of the day is that we just have a good time, whatever that may or may not involve. As time goes on, I’m sure they will continue to change, but what’s important is that a little thought made me discover all the wonderful traditions around me that make the holidays truly special. What are your traditions for the holiday season?
Sugar Plums might just be a new Christmas tradition. These are quite different than anything I’ve made before, but I really enjoyed them. I have been on a huge dried fruit kick lately, and these take dried fruit to a whole new level. Tasting kind of like mincemeat, they are soft and chewy with tons of dried fruit, but have added crunch from toasted pecans (they must be toasted) and a coating of granulated sugar. However, it is the warm spices and heavy hit of fresh orange zest that make Sugar Plums shine. An easy to make, no bake, super sharable treat that’s light and dare I say healthy, make these a wonderful holiday sweet that I hope can be added to your list of holiday traditions as well.
- 2 cups pecans, toasted
- 1 cup dried pitted plums
- ½ cup dried pitted apricots
- ½ cup dried figs
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ¼ cup confectioners’’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
- Granulated sugar for rolling
- In the bowl of a food processor, pulse pecans, plums, apricots, and figs until finely chopped but not combined into a ball.
- In a medium bowl, stir together honey, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, sugar, and orange zest until mostly combined. Not all of the sugar will be stirred in, but that’s okay.
- Pour the fruit and nut mixture into the bowl and mix with a spoon, your hands, or both until fully combined and very sticky.
- Take about 1 tablespoon of the mixture and roll it into a ball in your hands. Coat it fully in granulated sugar. Continue to do so until all of the mixture is used. Sugar plums may be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 month. I do not recommend freezing this recipe.