Written by Debbie Sloan
Edited by Mandi Pitt-Reed
Our Christmas tree this year has LED lights on it in all the traditional colors, plus purple. I cannot get used to the purple lights. We have never had purple Christmas lights on any tree or otherwise my entire life so, when I look at our tree, purple lights is all I see. It’s disconcerting. I was channeling Daddy when I bought the new-fangled LED lights. He was always all-in for new technology. He studied all new technology that came out long before it became commonplace. For example, we had electric toothbrushes and digital watches when they were expensive. He also embraced all new tool technology by promptly purchasing any that would save time and money over the long haul. Since LED lights are the current trend for Christmas tree lights, I thought I was innovative. It turns out that I am a bit more traditional than I thought.
My favorite Christmas tree memory is our aluminum tree with the separate color wheel, which was terrific. It had a bright flood light with a flat plastic cover that rotated through each of four colors: red, yellow, green, and blue. As the light shined through each panel, the silver tinsel tree reflected that color. It was no less than a miracle to me that this small light had such a significant effect on the appearance of our tree.
When I was a kid, putting up the Christmas tree was one of the best times of the year. It marked the beginning of the Christmas Season at our house that began shortly after Thanksgiving Day and ended abruptly on Christmas Day. Mom always dismantled the tree and put away all things Christmas on Christmas Day. We kept the tree in a large box in the attic and it took herculean effort to get it down the narrow attic steps. We had a pull-down set of stairs that were sturdy for people to climb, but a bit dicey for someone wielding a giant box. Anyway, somehow we always managed to get the box into the living room without incident. When we opened the box, the shiny aluminum sparkled and the festivities began. Each branch was kept inside a brown paper sleeve so that the aluminum branches would keep a lovely shape. Mom was not a patient person, however, so after the first couple of years she didn’t take time to house each branch in a sleeve. When we opened the box, the lovely branches sparkled and were ready to go. The branches were graduated in length and if you didn’t take care to start with the longest ones on the bottom, you would have to start over or the tree wouldn’t look like a tree. Each branch was stuck into the pole base. It seems that this would take a long time, but I guess the pace of life was slower then because it didn’t seem like much of a problem to place each branch one at a time into the base. Once we built the tree and stored its box away, out came the ornaments. We didn’t need strings of lights because we had the glorious color wheel. Each ornament was placed on the tree and many of them ended up in one small area, depending on the height of the person putting on the ornaments. That really didn’t matter because mom would sometimes move a few of them around once we were finishing decorating to keep the tree from toppling over. Next, we plugged in the magical Technicolor light and as the plastic color wheel spun, the ornaments and tree branches glistened. Christmas season was open.
Mom always played Christmas music while we assembled and decorated the tree. The Little Drummer Boy by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir along and Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer by Perry Como were some of our favorites. Even now when I hear The Little Drummer Boy, I think of that tree and the anticipation of Christmas that we all know and love. We had a big “picture window” that we left uncovered to showcase our Technicolor Christmas tree. Once we finished decorating and sat down to look at our creation with its ever-changing colors, Mom would bring out boiled custard with cookies and other snacks. I could sit for hours marveling at our lovely tree. Nowadays when I think of Christmas snacks to have on hand, one comes immediately to mind: Olive Cheese Wafers. It’s a recipe given to me years ago by my friend Kay. They are universal pleasers because most everyone loves their cheesy-salty taste. They go well with any celebration, but especially during cold weather holidays like Christmas and New Years. They keep well for days in the fridge so you can make them well in advance of any gathering. Here’s the recipe:
Olive Cheese Wafers
Preheat oven to 400o F.
1 stick unsalted butter
12 oz sharp cheddar cheese
1-1/4 cup all purpose flour
50 pimento-stuffed manzanilla olives (I used a 5.75 oz. bottle), diced
¼ tsp paprika
Dash of cayenne
Don’t add any salt to this recipe as it is salty enough with the olives. For even less salt, rinse the olives before dicing them.
There are only a couple of steps to this recipe. Mix everything together. Shape into a log and refrigerate 30 minutes. Slice and bake for about 8 – 10 minutes. Here’s what they look like when they are baked.
Click here for the 1-minute video: https://youtu.be/KbvAq2AdiL0
Here's what they look like after they're baked.