We have always had a really wonderful spread of food during the holidays. My mom would spend quite some time coordinating all the dishes. Calls would be made and items assigned. We usually have at least two turkeys, one ham and about a dozen side dishes (not including desserts) for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. It has been this way for as long as I can remember, and it seems that this abundance of food hearkens back to when my grandmother was a child.
My grandmother who grew up in a small town called Cedars in Warren County outside of Vicksburg, Mississippi shared with me her memories of food during the holidays. Christmas revolved around the big dinner and treats. The children would spend the day going from one house to another acquiring yummy desserts. Children would rush to my grandmother’s house where her aunt Eliza Winston would give away coveted pecan popcorn balls along with apples and oranges. My grandma would spend her time collecting goodies and would save a special portion of her day to go with her cousin Sunny to visit their cousin Amy. Cousin Amy loved to have the kids over and would lay out a white tablecloth and serve pie while the kids sang Christmas carols to her. After they visited all the neighbors they would go back home for a real feast, although I am unsure how they could possibly have room for any more food after all of those desserts.
Throughout the day Aunt Eliza cooked up a storm to ensure that they had a variety of food and treats. The preparations started a few months in advance when they slaughtered two hogs. Her Uncle would smoke the ham in their smokehouse. They would give away the meat of one hog to several families and keep the other for holiday feasts. Another interesting tidbit about their Christmas dinner is they would eat chicken instead of turkey. They had their own chickens that were big and fat. They would kill two chickens and stuff them for dinner. Along with the meat, they had an assortment of collards and plenty of desserts. They ate coconut, chocolate, and jelly cake. Each cake consisted of at least 3 layers. Sweet potato, pumpkin, lemon, peach, and apple are a few of the different types of pies prepared for Christmas dinner. They even had all sorts of roasted nuts. Aunt Eliza made her Fruitcake soaked in brandy the month before so that it would be ready in time for Christmas. My grandma is especially fond of the different candy they ate, Her favorite was a
sweet candy that she fondly remembers as a strip of fat, which sounds gross to me, but she explained that she called it that because the different colors made it look like fat. The candy is rather sweet in reality.
My Grandmother and her family didn’t have a lot of the material things but they certainly always had plenty of food.