Over at the Main site, Martha Pullen’s Southern Family Cookbook: Reflect on the Past, Rejoice in the Present, and Celebrate Future Gatherings with More Than 150 Heirloom Recipes & Meals (Adams Media, November 18, 2012) made the Holiday Gift Guide. I wanted to bring my Cooking readers’ attention to this great cookbook and wanted to share Martha Pullen’s Holiday Tips with you.
1. Be Thankful: On Thanksgiving Day, my son John, daughter-in-law Suzanne and their kids spend most of the day writing what they are thankful for on small pieces of paper and sticking them to a board. Of course the turkey, pumpkin pie, chocolate cobbler and brown bag apple pie also get cooked and eaten.
2. Keep it Simple: We have a huge Thanksgiving night dinner with lots family coming from several different places. Years ago I decided to decorate the house beautifully, but I use pretty paper plates and napkins. I did not like washing dishes until late night when I used my china! On Christmas Eve the family comes to our house to open presents around lunchtime. We have Daddy’s Spaghetti, Cheddar and Chive Bread, and Herbed Onion Bread. Desert is a Lemonade Pie. All of these things can be made ahead a week or more and frozen. For Christmas Eve I also always use paper plates and napkins.
3. Share the Wealth: My mother, who was called Mammy by the grandchildren, always took her Mammy’s Vegetable Beef Soup and Basic Cornbread to older people or people who were sick around the holidays. They told her that was the best Christmas present anyone could have brought to them-homemade soup that would last for several days.
4. Give to Others: After church on Christmas Eve our church takes homemade trays of Christmas goodies around to the nurse’s stations at hospitals and nursing homes, fire departments, and police departments. We wish them a Merry Christmas and thank them for working on Christmas Eve caring for people.
5. Cherish Special Decorations: I have a beautiful collection of handmade ornaments that my sewing friends have given me throughout the years. Each year, when Joe and I get the tree up, we ask family members and friends to come by anytime to look at the tree. They always want to talk about the handmade ornaments many of which have the person’s name that made it and their city or state. Of course I have the handmade ornaments that the children have made and given to me on the tree in the most prominent places!
6. Serve Traditional Dishes: If I were to tell you the three Christmas cookies that we could not do without it would be Judy’s Pecan Tassies, Judy’s Peanut Blossoms, and Suzanne’s Addictive Cream Cheese Crescents. Mama always made an Italian Cream Cake for Christmas, which she served with nonalcoholic eggnog!
7. Love the Imperfections: Joe and I love to go to the Christmas music programs and plays at several churches during Christmas. Our church has a beautiful concert with four pianos playing at once. I especially love the Christmas plays with little children playing the parts; there’s nothing more heartwarming than shepherds in bathrobes and angels in tennis shoes!
8. Make Sure There’s Plenty of Food: Our Christmas dinner would not be complete without Curried Fruit, Sweet Potato Marshmallow Casserole, Mary’s Hash Brown Casserole, Ritz Cracker Broccoli Casserole, and turnip greens! Mama always made homemade refrigerator rolls but I usually just do Martha’s Famous Angel Biscuits, which are much easier and just as good my family thinks. Our Christmas Dinner is around 5pm on Christmas night. The deserts are put on two tables. The food is served buffet style. Suzanne always brings several homemade pies, made that afternoon. Joanna brings the sweet potato casserole. My Scottsboro family brings the Yummy Mashed Potatoes and the turnip greens. I am so tired when everybody leaves I just put the dishes in the sink and go to bed. There is always the day after Christmas to clean up. We just relish the day and want it to last as long as possible.
9. Make The Day Beautiful: Joe’s mother as well as my mother always used magnolia leaves sprayed either silver or gold in their Christmas decorations, usually on their mantle. Joe’s mother decorated the center of her Christmas table with lots of her prettiest, little figurines; antique water glasses with greenery in each; and more magnolia leaves. On Christmas day all of the gold china, sterling, crystal, and monogrammed linen napkins came out of storage.
10. Nurture Family Traditions: John and Suzanne’s kids always sleep under the Christmas tree. Two are in college, one in high school and one in elementary school. They say they will always sleep under the tree.
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Disclaimer: I was given the tips by Martha Pullen, no money exchanged hands.