Holiday Gifts

My great-grandmother was an incredible woman. I mentioned her briefly here before. I remember her as spirited, lively, and an incredibly kind woman.

During the 1930′s, my great-grandmother decided to take her daughter (my grandmother) and leave a toxic marriage. She became a single mother during a time in history when this was considered scandalous. With the help of her father, she opened up a tiny restaurant just a stone’s throw away from the railroad stop. During WWII, soldiers would stream into the restaurant, ordering her famous chili, meatloaf, or sandwiches. She was the waitress, the cook and the busboy. She would find out when the next train of soldiers would be coming through and then work hard to whip up enough food. ┬áThis is how she met her husband, who I always knew as “papa.” He fell in love with her, and after the war ended, he joined her back in the small town to start a life together. They both worked hard and were able to open a larger restaurant. Eventually, they sold the restaurant and were able to retire comfortably.

My great-grandmother had a dedicated work ethic, and yet was still extremely generous. She was always cooking and hosting our family at her house. She would often have the kids over to stay the night. We would visit restaurants and eat as many oreos from her cookie jar as we could stomach. During Christmas time, she would work hard making dozens and dozens of candies for our family Christmas. She made sure to make everyone’s favorite. My fondest memories as a child is working to help dip the candies in chocolate. It was always a tradition I treasured.

A few weeks ago, I set a date with my sister to continue this family tradition. (She was too young to ever participate in the original get-togethers.) We enjoyed a glass of wine and made candy together with my kids.

Sadly, when my great-grandmother passed away, all of her candy recipes and tools were lost too. Over time, I have created my own recipes in the spirit of my great-grandmother. Over the next week, I will be posting recipes of homemade goodies that I still enjoy making for our neighbors and friends.

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