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Thursday, December 3, 2015

THEN AND NOW...STUFFED MUSHROOMS

Last night I brought home our first real Christmas tree in over 17 years.  Living in Arizona it was just easier and more cost effective to have a fake tree, but the smell and beauty of this beautiful pine has reminded me of how much I missed the splendor and aroma of our childhood Christmases.  Things seemed so much nicer then than they do now so I thought I would run a comparison between the two.

Then:

When I was growing up, Christmas was one of the best and most exciting times of the year for us as a family and as a community. I always noticed how, after Thanksgiving, people in our town always seemed cheerier and more jovial.  It was as though everyone was in a good mood.  We would start decorating and planning and mom and I would dream up a menu for Christmas dinner, which was always the five of us plus however many relatives came up that particular year.  I remember feeling so excited that I could hardly contain myself most days.  We would watch A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas...as a family.  We would make our annual trek into the woods to find and cut the perfect Christmas tree (which mom would always want us to flock for her...lol). We would hang our stockings and make Christmas lists for mom and dad. We would string endless Christmas cards around the living room and look at them as we reminisced about the sender. Our neighbors would stop by for a drink and there would be talking and laughing throughout the house.  A fire was always burning in the living room and the ambiance was warm and cozy.

Now:

Christmas is now advertised around Easter so they can instill it in our minds that we need to plan for Christmas and should begin our shopping.  They began the "Black Friday" custom for which people have been trampled, fought and killed over. Shopping has become the be-all and the end-all of the holiday season, from the grocery store to the retail store, and its actual meaning has become elusive to so many people. People have Christmas funds that they set up in the bank in January to be able to "afford" Christmas the following year. They say, "Happy Holidays," instead of "Merry Christmas," as no one is "allowed" to say "Christmas," because of the religious connotations.   Hello!!!...it's a religious holiday!!!  

I think that this change has been occurring since the late 1960's, however most of us, when we were young, really never knew or thought about the fact that the presents we got to open cost money and that our moms and dads bought them because we were under the impression that Santa Claus came down the chimney and put them all there for us because we were good.  It is a matter of shifting perspective.  As children we were shielded from the preparation and hustle and bustle of preparing for the holidays and focused more on the joy and happiness of it all.  As we grew into adults however, the focus shifted on the buying of presents as well as the receiving and so now we had to start thinking about having enough money to get presents for everyone in the family and that took a little of the magic out of it.  Then we had to start helping with the chores and preparation of the holiday meals and that took some of the joy out of it, at least for some (for me personally, I loved cooking with my mom).  Then we began to see what our parents went through when we were young and how they must have had to scrimp and save to provide us with those awesome Christmas experiences...and that really brought it home.  Let's face it though...as long as there have been rituals for which we purchased presents, stores have been very involved in advertising in those areas because that is how they sell things.  They just start it a lot earlier nowadays. 

Our perspective is what has changed and now we see Christmas as adults rather than starry-eyed kids.  I have to say, I enjoyed it more as a starry-eyed kid...that is until I had my son, and then the magic came back because I could see it through his eyes and I so loved making it special and magical for him and then I understood how my parents were seeing it through ours and that is what brought them joy and what brought love and happiness into our Christmases. 

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of our savior Jesus Christ.  In this spirit we are meant to commune with the ones we love and share meals and celebrate together in love and kindness.  We are meant to show compassion and forgiveness and help and love our friends and neighbors.  We are to love one another...that's all.

STUFFED MUSHROOMS

This is a recipe that my mother would make as one of the appetizers she served at our family gatherings.

Ingredients:

12  - Mushroom caps (large, fresh mushrooms)
2    - Slices of French bread (with the crusts cut off)
1/4 - Tsp. Thyme
1/4 - Tsp. Basil
1/4 - Cup Parsley
3    - Cloves Garlic, chopped
1    - Slice Lemon
1/8 - Cup Olive oil

Remove stems from mushrooms and brush caps with lemon juice...set aside. Chop stems, parsley, thyme, garlic and basil and blend together in a bowl. Tear up bread into crumbs and mix into bowl. Saute stem mixture in butter and olive oil. Stuff mushroom caps and bake in a moderate oven...325 degrees for 20 minutes. I could eat a whole batch in one sitting...Delicioso!!!




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