Small Maine towns, which is the majority of the population centers scattered around Vacationland, all celebrate Christmas like one big family.
The school bus drivers know which kids have a hard home life. Collect the extra food to bound down the steps of the school bus. Paced with love and care in a back pack to make sure Christmas includes good food.
While local churches in Maine hang the Christmas gift pleas for the congregation to take.
To buy for an unknown boy that is eight and likes Lego building toys. Or a teen age daughter that could use a warm pair of boots. Secret Santas, there are a slew of them in small Maine towns. Helping without calling attention to the local elves pulling off the behind the scenes to make the season bight. To lend a helping hand to make sure Christmas happens in town and out in the country for the local residents.
I ran into a lady who’s Mom and family picked potatoes for my Dad back in the 1960’s.
I asked her what was the best Christmas she could remember and she said her first year in her own house, to celebrate with her own family. I asked her as a child, which one stood out. She said the one when she was ten and was not sure if Christmas was going to happen or not. Her parents had a tough year with a big family and struggled with making the household financial ends to meet.
But with the help of friends, family and neighbors, who all pulled together, she remembers the best Christmas ever.
Hunger improves the taste and to her surprise what seemed unlikely to happen because of being strapped financially as a family turned out other wise. The miracle of giving, opening hearts and making sure no one goes without in the local community. Because in small Maine towns, there is a strong connection. We help each other, our lives run in smaller circles that over lap and the grapevine helps whisper the needs that need addressing. SHhhhhh. Pass it on.
Your own personal family traditions for Christmas? Candle light church services, school musicals with Up On the House Top Click Click … oh oh. There go some more roof shingles. And reindeer games, took out the guy wire securing the antennae to pull in the few television stations we have in Maine and across the border to over home, into near by Canada.
Food, always part of the celebration with family and friends. Dishes your mom whipped up with her eyes closed and so tasty.
Mocca balls, coconut clusters, date filled cookies, divinity fudge, fruit cake and nut rolls. Forget the calories, keep the phone number for the gym to tap out after the season ends. Being on a diet prior to Christmas and until the noise makers are put away with the empties of party juice at New Year’s is a steep uphill battle.
Oyster stews, lasagna, hams, turkeys, pies of all kind. What do you remember as a kid besides ribbon candle and peanut
brittle among the ho ho ho? Playing Hearts happen on Christmas Eve in our house hold by the glow of the Christmas tree. With Andy Williams, Ray Conniff, Perry Como, and others belting out the old Christmas standards.
Pass the egg nog and more shrimp cocktail for me? Yes please. Don’t want to appear to be a hog. But just being social and not wanting to hurt the cook’s feelings. Grandmothers wear the biggest grins when you reach for seconds, thirds or more helpings of what they live to put on the table for a holiday spread. Nothing store bought or from a bakery or deli. Everything from a family recipe that was served up at every Christmas family celebration bar none.
If you moved to another venue for Christmas Eve or the 25th Day vittles, would the menu change from lobster or crab, prime rib, grilled steaks of all kinds? Would you have fiddle heads if preparing to eat out in the Midwest, the other coast or in the Florida pan handle?
Or a Maine baked potato if sitting down, pushing in the table chair in Idaho or Oregon? Not a lot of rice dishes served up in the potato country of Northern Maine. Pass the green bean casserole please. Is that cranberry sauce over there by Grandma? And I’ll pass on the jello with the carrots, pineapple and whatever else got sifted and folded into the jiggle and wiggle. But ambrosia, save some for me. The food of the Gods with those cherries, whipped cream, pure heaven.
The extras beyond stuffing from the bird, the bread and butter pickles, real whipped potatoes, other veggies like butternut or acorn or blue hubbard squash.
Boiled, pearl creamy onions, turnip, home made gravy and breads, rolls, biscuits. Speaking of turnips, ask a Mainer if a rutabaga is different and how? If you are on the coast of Maine, seafood, fish takes up a big portion of the serving platters. It’s what’s for dinner all twelve of the months on the kitchen calendar in a Maine coastal household.
Whatever you eat, have planned, don’t forget the round guy with red velvet and white fur, flying deer who is working over time. Beyond his pay grade to make the season bright for kids of all ages without all of our help if you still believe. A carrot or two for the eight reindeer, a sugar cookie, brownie and ice cold milk for the red faced sleigh master driver. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays. A video of Santa touching down in the Aroostook County recently.
Here’s wishing you the best for the New Year! From all the Maine towns that put the extra effort to celebrate the reason for the season beyond the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.
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