Appalachian Thursday – A Homemade Christmas
Once upon a time Christmas was simpler. Preparations didn’t start before Halloween, presents were homemade, food was based on what was in season, and decorations came from nature.
Or so I hear.
All of that could be me romanticizing a simpler, POORER time in the mountains of Appalachia, but hey, it’s nice to think about (and write about!). So, just in case you take a notion to try for a simple, Appalachian Christmas, here are some ideas.
- Lots of fresh greenery–pine, holly, boxwood, mistletoe. Tuck branches behind picture frames and arrange them in Mason jars on the mantle. Tie swags with red ribbon for your front door.
- Make an old-fashioned popcorn and cranberry garland. Air pop corn (you don’t want it oily) and put heavy thread through a darning needle. You may not want to do a whole tree worth unless you’re patient and persistent, but it would look nice on the table with some of that greenery.
- Paper snowflakes. We LOVED making these as kids. Fold circles of paper in half over and over, cut out interesting shapes and unfold. They look wonderful in windows.
- Make some fudge or a batch of cookies and tuck them in boxes lined with parchment paper.
- Use some of that greenery you gathered to make a swag for a friend’s front door or mailbox.
- Knit or crochet a scarf. (Requires patience and persistence again + a modicum of skill.)
- Roast meats, root vegetables, nuts, and pickled items would have been standard winter fare. Not to mention wild game.
- Citrus fruit would have been a huge treat. An orange in your stocking sounds kind of lame now, but it was still a big deal when my dad was a kid in the 1940s.
- And use up those leftovers! Waste not, want not. Here’s a recipe for leftover mashed potatoes that will put you in sugar shock.
1/2 cup cold, leftover mashed potatoes
Creamy peanut butter
Keep adding powdered sugar (we’re talking like, 4-5 cups here) to the mashed potatoes a little at a time until you have a soft dough that holds together when you knead it (but doesn’t crumble). Dust your counter with powdered sugar and roll the dough out to about a quarter of an inch. Spread peanut butter over it like you would for a sandwich. Roll the candy and wrap in plastic, then chill for a couple of hours. Cut into half-inch slices and enjoy!