I just finished preparing my Mom’s turkey cassarole for Christmas Eve. Yes, I know I spelled casserole wrong. But that’s the way my mom spelled it on the handwritten recipe booklet she gave me with some of her favorite recipes. And so it shall remain forever cassarole.
Mom was an overachiever when it came to Christmas. I always thought it was because she grew up during the depression with 7 brothers and sisters and didn’t have much at Christmastime. She made up for the lack of material wealth with her children and even more so with her grandchildren.
My brother and I were definitely not spoiled at Christmastime, but we always got that one special present that we really wanted. One year, probably 1956, I wanted a bride doll in the worst way. I got one. But it was my old red-headed walking doll that showed up under the Christmas tree with a handmade wedding dress and veil, constructed by my Aunt Burdeen. There were tiny flowers on the veil and at the neckline of the dress. There was a satin underskirt and several layers of white tulle to make the full skirt. And white satiny slippers with a strap that closed with a tiny button. I never thought twice about that second-hand bride doll.. it was just what I wanted.
She continued the tradition with the grandchildren. One year she stayed up all night constructing not one but two Castle Grayskulls (from the HeMan days) complete with drawbridge and working trap doors and probably 500 pieces.
It wasn’t just gifts under the tree that my mother provided. She would cook for days preparing for the Christmas Holiday. The year after she retired, she sent each of us home with whole pies, dozens of decorated cookies, ham, and enough side dishes to last us for a couple of days. This was in addition to cooking the entire meal for all of us. She was definitely a giver.
I miss my Mom the most during the holidays. She has been gone for 8 Christmases and a few more than that; dementia stole her away from us the first time. She left behind a wonderful legacy of love, generosity, and selflessness. My kids tease me sometimes when I repeat some of the things she used to do for us. “Are you trying to be Grandma?” they ask.
Yes, I guess I am.