For those of you paying attention, this is a reworked post from a couple of years ago. But I really like the idea of slowing down and taking time to MAKE Christmas. So here we go again . . .
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’s some inspiration.
- 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. (And if you want to get all modern, there are beautiful templates you can download online.)
- Make some fudge or a batch of cookies and tuck them in boxes or tins lined with parchment paper.
- Use some of that greenery you gathered to make a swag for a friend’s front door or mailbox. Bouquets of greenery and berries are nice, too!
- Knit or crochet a scarf. Hemstitch some napkins. (Requires patience and persistence again + a modicum of skill.)
- Write a Christmas poem or short story (ah-ha–my gifting!).
- 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.
- Fruitcakes would have been made back in the autumn with a wealth of dried fruit and fresh nuts then tucked in cheesecloth, dampened with whiskey, and tucked in the cellar until time to celebrate!
- And use up those leftovers! Waste not, want not. Here’s an old-time 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!