merry Christmas




Some people absolutely love Christmas music. Some even start playing it the day after Halloween because they love it so much. I know there are people out there that just can’t stand it at all, but I’m not one of those Scrooges. I love, love, LOVE Christmas music - especially the classics.

So, the other day, I was washing dishes and streaming Classic Christmas Music station and the song, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, came on.

It goes like this:

“I’ll be home for Christmas

You can plan on me.

Please have snow

And mistletoe

And presents on the tree.

Christmas Eve will find me

Where the love light gleams.

I’ll be home for Christmas

If only in my dreams.”

Well. I found myself crying into the dishwater. I have heard that song a thousand times or more and never once can I recall it making me cry. But there were so many things that were rushing through my brain and effecting my heart and crying just seemed the natural response.

The first thing I thought of was The Kid - our youngest son, Jordan. He’s been in the Army for a couple of years now, and we are fortunate if we get to see him for the holidays. But even outside of this time of year, he misses home something FIERCE. He is stationed at a location where there happens to be snow, which is so different from his home here in Texas. So though I don’t think he cares about us having snow, as the song requests, I do know he dreams of being home just the same.

Thinking of The Kid led me to think of all the other soldiers and service people who won’t be home for Christmas. I thought of all the videos and commercials I’ve seen of soldiers surprising their loved ones: a child opening a remote-control car for Christmas and his dad ‘remoting’ it to the front door while the youngster follows it only to find his mommy in her fatigues, crouching with her arms open to embrace the child she hasn’t seen in so long; or the ever-popular soldier-dad who pops out of the basketball mascot suit to his son playing in the game while the crowd cheers. Oh, you can bet by this time, the dish-gloves had come off (as had the false eyelashes) and I had moved to the couch in full-ugly cry mode.

From the soldiers to the civilians who simply can’t get away from their work or who want to go home with all their might but maybe can’t afford it. My mind was racing, and my heart was pounding. And breaking. And my eyes were pouring.

How can I seriously find comfort and joy knowing this? How can I find the silver lining as I try to do in all things knowing people can’t come home for Christmas?

I started running through the song again in my head.

“Christmas Eve will find me, where the love light gleams”……YES. I got it. The love light. Where does the love light gleam no matter where we are?? I hope you know the answer before I tell you: OUR HEARTS! That is why he ends the song with “if only in my dreams”. If he can’t be there physically, he is allowing his heart to be there, just as he dreams it would be if he were.

Even though I wish the opposite of this truth, not everything is a Hallmark movie that has the most-perfect ending. Sometimes we can’t make it home for Christmas. Or sometimes our loved ones can’t make it home to us. Either way, if we let Christmas Eve find us where the love light gleams, we can imagine home and know that the reason we pine for it is because we are loved or have people that love us enough to want to be together! What a blessing. What a love light.

The Hubster and I are always home for Christmas. We put zero pressure on The Kiddos to come see us. Our Fall Family Day, Thanksgiving weekend and Family Festivus, full of traditions are our only requests. They are married now and have other family they may want to be with for Christmas and we do not want them to feel the burden (some of you know it well) of trying to please everyone for the holidays by traversing from one end of the world to the other in order to spend only a few minutes with each family member. In those moments, it seems that we are taking being “home for Christmas” for granted; as though it were something that we grumble about, not thinking of those who wish they had that very opportunity.

But now being home for Christmas has taken on a whole new meaning for me. It doesn’t matter where you hang your hat for the holidays. It doesn’t matter if you are all together or miles apart. It’s where the love light gleams that takes you home for Christmas.

So I will always be home for Christmas. If only in my dreams.

Merry Christmas, Lovelies. May your love light gleam brighter than ever.

Now Bring Us Some Piggy Pudding!

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I’m fairly sure we've all done it.  You know……all sing – loudly and proudly – “Now bring us some piggy pudding, and bring some right here!”

I know I have.  It took me FOREVER to realize the lyrics were “FIGGY” pudding.  But I didn't care, even once I found out.  We are creatures of habit, and it still comes out piggy pudding when I sing it.  Either way, when you consider it, neither one sounds very appetizing, now does it?

I've always loved cooking, but in the last few years I've really become what is socially referred to as a “foodie”; not just loving the adventure of cookery, but also feeling my palette mature and craving truly good fare and not processed or fast stand-ins; and also really honing in on the craft of preparing stunning and delicious food.

(Now stay with me.  You may think you know where I’m going with this, but you won’t have seen this one coming.)

So of course, as time progressed and so did my culinary skills, I was greatly interested in researching and getting to the bottom of how figgy pudding came to be, what was in it, how to prepare it, and then – to delight in it – if it was warranted.  It IS called, FIGGY PUDDING, after all.  Just say it.  What picture comes into your head?  For me, it was a brown, gelatinous, squishy-sounding goo that I was certain only paupers and beggars had to eat back in the days of yore.  Well, though the thought intrigued me, it certainly didn't sound appetizing!

In doing this research of sorts, I discovered it dated back to the 16th century and consisted of mashed figs, thickened with bread, and then crème-boiled into a custard.  That actually sounded pretty good.  Like bread and fig jam!  YUM.  Well, if you know me, you know I typically don’t stick to a recipe.  It’s a sickness.  And I definitely CAN’T quit any time I want.  Seeing several modern-day recipes consisting of butter, molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, and figs, I thought, “I bet I could make this into a pie.”  To which I did.  And it was … DELICIOUS!  I candied some walnuts and put them on top and it was one of the most delectable Christmas treasures I had ever created.

But wait!!  There’s more…

Last year, I decided to make figgy pudding pie again, and was singing the song over and over again (we all know when a song gets stuck, it’s STUCK!); but alas, I found myself singing about piggy pudding again.  Maybe I wasn't giving figgy pudding the respect it was due.  It was, after all, being prepared in my kitchen again because it was so good.

And then it hit me.  Piggy Pudding.  (I don’t even WANT to know the vision you get when you hear THAT)  I thought of all the ingredients in the figgy pudding pie I had made.  I then thought about pork, which led me to think about mincemeat pie: it has apples, raisins, and sometimes, pork or roast beef, and it is YUM.  Why not figs instead?  What about pulled pork, figs, butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg DIDN'T sound good?

And so it came to be.  Piggy Pudding.  It’s legit.  Sing it loud and proud. 

I wish you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

Piggy Pudding Pie

  • 1 ½ cups pulled or shredded pork (pork is a rare treat in my house, so when I do make it, I use only organic, nitrate free, hormone-free, uncured pork)
  • ½  stick of butter
  • ½  cup of molasses
  • About 2 cups figs, stems removed and finely chopped (you can substitute dried, but make sure they are un-sweetened to avoid processed and extra un-necessary sugar)
  • Finely-grated lemon peel (it needs this acidity)
  • Juice of the lemon
  • 1 tablespoon potato starch (you can substitute corn starch, but I keep watch for GMOs and aluminum)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • A jhushj of fresh grated nutmeg (I don’t know what a measure equal to a jhushj would be, so just grate it over the top of the mixture)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • Rum or cognac (optional, but not in my house)

Cream butter with mixer until it is fluffed.  Add your molasses and beat that up a little.  Then add your figs, butter, and lemon juice and peel.  Add the remaining dry ingredients (potato starch, salt, and other seasonings), until it is all mixed together.  Fold in your pulled pork.  If you’re really feeling froggy, a little cognac or rum poured in doesn't hurt!  Pour into a prepared pie crust (I make mine from scratch, but it’s your call from here) If you want to make it look authentic, place a pie crust or pie lattice over the pie, slice it a few times if it’s a full crust, and egg-white brush it.  Place in a 325-degree oven for about 45 minutes.  Eat slowly.  Enjoy.  I can’t TELL you how emotional this experience will be for many Christmases to come!