On this last day of December, and of 2018, our Christmas branch still twinkles as I continue to reflect on Christmas 1994 in Stehekin. Here’s a short excerpt from Hiking Naked about that celebration with Jerry’s family.
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We filled the next few days with cross-country skiing, baking, and Hearts, the card game we always played at family gatherings. On Christmas Eve night, we all gathered at our house to read the story of Christ’s birth, share blessings, and sing songs by candlelight. While logs crackled in the woodstove and snow again started to fall, we concluded the evening with another tradition instituted years earlier by Donna and Dale. One by one, each family member dumped little wrapped packages out of hand-made stockings; the rule was every item had to cost less than a dollar and had to fit in the sock. As always, laughter filled the room as everyone discovered miniature bottles of shampoo and French soaps lifted from hotel rooms, pens and note pads from pharmaceutical companies our pediatrician cousin picked up at medical conferences, individually-wrapped fruit leathers and chocolates, and an assortment of kitchen gadgets including a wide variety of closures for snack bags.
Matt, Rachel, and [cousin] Leslie were well past the age of believing in Santa Claus, but waking to eighteen inches of fresh snow on Christmas morning was just as magical. Its powdery whiteness brightened the pre-sunrise hours as we opened more gifts, sipped lattés and hot chocolate, and ate orange twists and an egg-and-sausage casserole.
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Ah, those orange twists. They appear frequently in my memoir, as they were the pastry I most enjoyed making (and eating) when I worked as a baker at Stehekin Pastry Company. Still think they’re one of the best treats, and it’s been fun to share them at various author events for Hiking Naked.
On Christmas Eve this year, I rose early to make a few batches (including a gluten-free version) to gift the crew of the M.V. Tillikum, the interisland ferry where I serve as Writer-in-Residence.
I knew they’d be working on Christmas Day while I spent time with family, so orange twists seemed fitting to express my appreciation (this is the same Kitchen Aid mixer we barged to Stehekin; it’s a character in the memoir, too).
And yes, I did save a few for our own breakfast the next day.
A couple crewmembers couldn’t wait until Christmas, so I was able to hear their appreciative comments before I returned home. But sorry, the recipe isn’t available for sharing. You’ll just have to try them for yourself at Stehekin Pastry Company—or one of my author events.
Here’s hoping all the twists of 2019 are sweet.
*Afterthoughts are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, previous posts, maybe even bumper stickers and refrigerator magnets.