In my family growing up, Christmas Day was spent at home with my parents, siblings and myself. Extended family visits took place on other days leading up to Christmas, but that day was for our nuclear family. So our Christmas dinner wasn't as elaborate as Thanksgiving, when we would gather with extended family.
Since Cookies and Dinner are Advent Calendar discussion topics for later in this month, I'll focus today on what foods were special to us that don't fall into those categories.
At the top of my list were the bowls of mixed nuts in their shells that Mom would have sitting around. These never made an appearance any other time of the year, but in the lead up to Christmas, there was always a bowl of nuts and a nutcracker sitting on an endtable in the living room. Sometimes it would be just walnuts, but usually it was mixed nuts. Since there was some effort needed to crack the nuts and dig out the nutmeat, we were allowed to snack on them at will. As kids we never went crazy gobbling them down because we lost interest in cracking them open after just a few nuts and our attention would turn to other things.
Everyone had their favorite type of nut they would dig for in the bowl. Dad went for the walnuts, I liked the brazil nuts. My sister liked the hazelnuts, or as she called them, "acorns".
Another Holiday treat was Ribbon candy. My father's aunt generally gave us a box of it every year. Now that was a treat that Mom would parse out because otherwise we'd gobble up the entire box in no time! I loved the thin crackle of the delicate hard candy.
And I can't forget about the candy canes! They were everywhere! We'd hang them on the tree and eat them as snacks or even dessert. Mom would get the little canes each individually wrapped in cellophane. Back then they came in one flavor - peppermint with the classic red and white stripes. OK, occasionally we'd score a green and white stripe peppermint cane, but they were hard to come by. Today's tutti-frutti kaleidoscope colored candy canes just don't seem right to me. That's not how candy canes are supposed to look and taste!
Now I have to run out and buy some mixed nuts and ribbon candy. You readers are a bad influence!