Part of the fun of the holidays is setting holiday traditions, making memories, and of course, there’s all the food! At Suwanee Magazine, we thought it might be fun to share some of those family traditions, wonderful memories and delicious recipes from Suwanee residents that will help make the holidays merry and bright!
I remember when I was growing up in Sulphur, Louisiana, each year the youth (mainly the high school students) from our church would do a “live Nativity.” When I was little, I always wanted to be in the live Nativity! Once I was in high school, I finally got my opportunity! I started off my first year as a shepherd. Then the next year I was promoted to a wise man. Finally my senior year, I had the honor of playing Joseph! Good thing we didn’t use real babies for baby Jesus back then!
– Jace Brooks
Suwanee resident and Gwinnett County Commissioner
When my son was young, I wanted to find a way he could count down to Christmas day similar to an Advent calendar, but I didn’t want to use a traditional calendar. So, I broke out the holiday-foiled Hershey kisses.
On December 1, I place 25 Hershey kisses on my grandmother’s ceramic Christmas tree plate, which sits on our kitchen counter. Each day in December, my son eats one Hershey kiss; the day he eats the last piece of candy, it’s finally Christmas day!
We’ll probably have to modify this tradition now that he’s in college, but I’m sure we’ll still do it in one form or another. He likes this tradition much better than the family tradition of having everyone eat breakfast before we open gifts!
– Lynne DeWilde,
PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER FOR THE CITY OF SUWANEE
When I was a little girl, there was one particular dish that could
make the special day perfect or bring aunts and uncles, grandmothers
and guests, to the brink of a family brawl. That dish was…
■ 1 large cast-iron skillet of homemade cornbread, prepared a day or two ahead of time
■ 1/2 to 3/4 of one large bag of seasoned dried breadcrumbs (I use Pepperidge Farm)
■ 1 large onion and 5-6 celery stalks, boiled until tender
(save the water for moistening the dressing)
■ Rubbed sage (one jar or metal spice container)
■ Turkey drippings and chicken broth, enough to
moisten all the ingredients
■ Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all the above ingredients together, and bake in 400 degree oven for one hour.
(Feeds an army for a single meal or holiday guests for 2-3 days)
– Carole Townsend
Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett Daily Post staff correspondent and blogger and author of two books: “Southern Fried White Trash” and her newest, “Red Lipstick and Clean Underwear” (released October 15, 2012). She is also a regular guest on FOX News Radio station WYXC 1270 AM on Wednesdays during the Drive at 5. For more information, visit www.caroletownsend.com.
Here’s to another lovely holiday season in your home.
The holiday season is one of my favorite times of year. There is just something about that time, and everyone seems more cheerful. Growing up, we would do Christmas with my immediate family on Dec. 24, and then go to my Grandma’s house that same evening for Christmas with that side of the family. Then we would all get up early on Christmas day and go to my other Grandma and Grandpa’s house for Christmas with that side of the family. Eventually, everyone from both sides would come over to our place for lunch. I remember feeling lucky that I got to see everyone in my family and have multiple Christmases. It was always fun having everyone together in the same place.
– Brian Hassinger, Suwanee Magazine Graphic Designer
Here’s one of my favorite easy holiday recipes, especially great for children. They can even help make them!
■ 7 oz. marzipan
■ 4 oz. semisweet chocolate
(I use morsels to speed melting)
■ 2 tblsps. veg. shortening
■ 48 whole unblanched almonds
■ 1 lightly beaten large egg white (not frothy)
■ 3 cup powdered white confectioner’s sugar
Measure a rounded tsp. of marzipan and shape into a slightly tapered oval mouse-body form, place on wire rack over plate or wax paper (to catch dripping chocolate). Do same for remaining marzipan (should be about 48 total). Melt chocolate and shortening in top of double boiler set over water (or small sauce pan in larger one) no hotter than 120° F.
Stir frequently to blend, and then pour or spoon evenly over marzipan mice bodies, returning chocolate which drips on plate (or wax paper) to double boiler to reuse.
Quickly (before chocolate sets) position two almonds in large end of mouse bodies as ears. Gradually add powdered sugar to beaten egg white in small bowl, beating constantly into a thick and creamy icing. Use a toothpick to dip into icing and make pinpoints of icing on large end of each mouse body as eyes and nose. (Makes 24)
– LEO LAWRENSON,
PRES. ROTARY CLUB OF BUFORD/NORTH GWINNETT
In each year of the 37 years Louise and I have been married, the weeks leading up to Christmas have been marked by the smell of freshly baked gingerbread and the sight of beautifully decorated cookies. Sometimes our home took on the appearance of a small commercial bakery with Louise churning out as many as 40 dozen cookies, resulting in almost every flat surface in the house being covered with edible Santas, poinsettias, holly leaves, reindeer, snowmen, Christmas trees and wreaths. One year we had stacks of cookies stored under a bed.
The process assures that each of our 12 grandchildren will get a package of individually wrapped cookies to devour themselves or to share with their parents, if mom and dad were good. Others find their way to friends as holiday party house gifts or as a “thank you” to co-workers, clients, special groups and organizations. It’s a tradition that has endured cross-country moves and dramatically different Christmas season climates, from snowbound in Boston to sun drenched Miami. But wherever we’ve been it brings warmth and a sharing spirit to the season.
– Dick Goodman
Suwanee City Council
Since my family moved from Chagrin Falls, Ohio to Boca Raton, Florida it was always a tradition for my sister and me to go swimming on Christmas day. My dad would take a picture and send copies to everyone back in Ohio. We were very happy to have moved away from those freezing, Snowy Ohio winters.
– Darcy Seyller
1 lb. Oreo cookies (3 sleeves)
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 lb. milk chocolate
1/2 lb. white chocolate
Using a food processor, grind cookies to a fine powder.
With a mixer, blend cookie powder, cream cheese and vanilla extract until thoroughly mixed (there should be no white traces of cream cheese).
Roll into small balls and place on wax-lined cookie sheet. (As suggested, I used my cookie scoop, refrigerated for a while, then rolled them and this made it a lot less messy).
Refrigerate for 45 minutes. Line two cookie sheets with wax paper. In a double-boiler, melt milk chocolate (I used a Pyrex dish over a pot). Dip balls in chocolate and coat thoroughly. With slotted spoon, lift balls out of chocolate and let excess chocolate drip off. (I used toothpicks to do this instead). Place on wax paper lined cookie sheet. In a separate double-boiler, melt white chocolate. Using a fork, drizzle white chocolate over balls. (You may also choose to use decorative sprinkles or sugars for decorating). Let cool. Store in airtight container, in refrigerator. Yields approximately 40 truffles.
– Erica Abrams, Art Director
When I was young, every year my brother and I had a Christmas tradition. Christmas Eve we were allowed to open one present, which usually consisted of Christmas pjs, and then we were off to bed. About 3 a.m. I would wake up every Christmas morning and sneak downstairs to make sure Santa had come. When I saw he had arrived, I would run upstairs and wake up my brother. The two of us would go back downstairs and open our stockings before all of the grown ups were awake. Excited we would both rush to our beds with our stockings and eventually fall back asleep until about 7 a.m. when we could smell breakfast and hear the grownups. Before even saying Merry Christmas he and I would race to the presents and organize them all for each person, so we could make sure there was no time wasted before starting to tear into our presents. Such a great memory for me, too bad we had to grow up, lol.
April Futey, Suwanee Magazine Graphic Designer
One of Kathryn’s cookie recipes that we make every year and handed down for at least four generations.
Sugar and spice cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
3/4 cup of soft butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 med. egg
1/4 cup molasses
Cream these 4 ingredients
In a separate bowl sift together:
2 cups white lily all-purpose flour (scoop in the bag and level method)
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp. ground clove
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
Then add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.
Form into walnut size balls(dough will be a little sticky) place on cookie sheet and place in the oven.
Baking time: This time will vary depending on your oven. You do not want the cookies to be fully baked, they need to be under baked. I generally do a test batch before I bake all the cookies. 7 to 10 minutes is the time range. Just see which time works best for under baked cookies… they will need to be soft and chewy.
Then allow the cookies to cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Makes about 2 to 3 dozen
Jon Rogers, Suwanee Magazine Graphic Designer
Ever since I was little my family has always gotten together to throw a Christmas Eve party at my grandma’s house. We always play Christmas music and dress in Christmas attire. There is a ton of food such as turkey, ham, cheese balls, dips and drinks. Since we have done it every year it is very special and I love the memories that I have from it.
Shay Taylor, Suwanee Magazine Graphic Designer
During the holidays, my dad likes to dress up as Santa Claus and visit friends and relatives with young children.
When I was a little girl, he even came to visit me a time or two. But not wanting me to recognize him, he decided it would be best for him to keep his distance. One evening I was at my grandmother’s house, and after dinner while my grandmother was finishing up the dishes and looking out the window just above the kitchen sink, a man in a bright red suit walking around in the backyard caught her eye. “You’ve got to come see this,” she said as she called me to the window. Curiously, my aunt and I bounded over to the window to see the jolly ole elf waving up to us and belting out, “Ho! Ho! Ho!” As we watched from the window, he rode my bicycle through the yard, and then grabbed my grandfather’s wheelbarrow and wheeled it down to the bottom of the hill. After that he raised his hand, yelled one last “Ho! Ho! Ho!, and then turned and headed toward the street. When he was gone, I was sure he had dumped my presents at the bottom of the hill and I didn’t realize that was my dad until years later.
He continues this tradition even today, and he still gets a kick out of knowing he made a kid’s holiday a little bit merrier. But he never tries to take the place of the real Santa, leaving the big night and bringing all the toys up to the real St. Nick!
– Tana Christian Suggs, Writer/Editor Suwanee Magazine
My first year out of college, my roommate and I found ourselves in a bind for cash, meaning we weren’t able to put together enough funds for a tree. I somehow acquired a free standing towel rack in the process of moving to Georgia from Alabama, so I decided to put it to good use. Since we had a yard full of vines, limbs, and leaves, I took it upon myself to thread an assortment of those things through the loops the towel rack provided.
As far as ornaments and tinsel for the tree were concerned, I had an array of Mardi Gras beads that I connected together to wrap around the tree. I then arranged a number of bottle caps to resemble hanging ornaments. My roommate made some more artistic ornaments as well.
It was a great idea and a functional, inexpensive decoration for the holidays. Many of our friends found it amusing and were not surprised that I was the “brains” behind the operation.
-Mary-Kate Laird, Suwanee Magazine Photographer & Social Media Manager