If you ask my grandmother her favorite childhood Christmas memory, her answer is always the same. It’s the one where they had a silver Christmas tree — but not the silver tree you’re picturing.
She was one of six. Out of necessity, both her parents worked to make ends meet, and she was raised by older siblings. But when Christmas rolled around, poverty didn’t stand in the way of holiday magic.
Every year, each child would receive one toy, a homemade outfit and a handful of fruit, nuts and peppermint candies. That was a big Christmas.
It was her father’s job to hunt for the perfect tree, and he took great pride in procuring a prime specimen from the woods.
One year, he wasn’t able to find a suitable cedar tree. In a last-ditch effort, he cut down a holly bush. Feeling embarrassed with his haul, he set out to make the puny bush special.
With a can of found silver paint, he painstakingly brushed every prickly holly leaf. They added their few ornaments and one small strand of bubble lights. The result, as my grandmother puts it, was the most beautifully amazing Christmas tree she’s ever had.
It wasn’t about the size or color or even about it being a tree at all. The love he put into that tree made it beautiful. Something my great-grandfather thought inadequate became the main focus of one of the fondest Christmases they ever shared.
It doesn’t take much to make holidays special — just some time, a little effort and a heaping helping of love. I’m sharing a few favorite holiday recipes as my expression of love to y’all for reading the Farmhouse Kitchen in each issue. I hope they help you spread a little love, too.
My grandmother’s Icebox Fruitcake is a holiday must. Nothing like a traditional fruitcake, this no-bake icebox version is made from crushed graham crackers, raisins, cherries, marshmallows and sweetened condensed milk and is pressed into a baking dish and cut into squares.
If you’re looking for the perfect recipe for Christmas morning, French Toast Sausage Bake might be just what you need. It’s the perfect blend of sweet and salty and can be prepped the night before to make breakfast a breeze.
Eggnog Chess Pie is the holiday dessert you didn’t know you needed. It’s got all the great creamy flavor of traditional chess pie but with an eggnog twist.
Making shortbread cookies can be finicky, but Easy Pecan Shortbread fixes that. Rather than individual cookies, you make one big cookie and slice it into individual servings.
They might not involve expensive ingredients or elaborate techniques. But as humble as they are, these recipes show your loved ones just how special they are. Merry Christmas, y’all.