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Daddy had the holiday spirit

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As the holidays approach this year, I find myself looking for the same things we enjoyed in my family as a child to share with my own family.

We didn’t have a lot of money when I was a child — just like everyone else we knew. Of course, we had everything we needed and a good bit of what we wanted, we didn’t have a lot of extra money for extravagant gifts or elegant meals with prime rib and such.

But, one thing was certain at Christmas: we would have good food. Thankfully, my daddy loved anything sweet which meant there was going to be chocolate and other candy in the house throughout the holiday season.

His favorite things were chocolate drops and orange slices. We also had to have a bowl of Brazil nuts and pecans in the house, too. He loved fruit, so there were always apples and oranges around the holidays as well. And, then there was the jar filled with the soft, melt-in-your-mouth peppermint sticks. My mama’s contribution to the holiday stash was thin mints that came in the long, skinny boxes and held those wonderful peppermint flavored pieces of heaven.

One other thing daddy always insisted on was that we have fresh coconut. I can remember going to the store or curb market to pick up the fruit and coconut. That furry little ball didn’t look very appetizing to me, but when my daddy got through with it, it would have become the best holiday cake ever — well at least a couple of times.

I remember sitting in front of him as he took a screwdriver and a hammer and punched out the “eyes” of the coconut to drain that yucky juice from inside. Then he’d take the hammer and crack the orb open to reveal a mass of white flesh covered with a thin layer of brown sandpaper — at least that’s what I thought.

I can remember watching him as he pulled out his knife and began to peel away the brown skin covering the meat of the coconut and pass off pieces to me and my brothers gathered waiting for our treat.

As the big day approached, daddy also made sure that there would be a big ham and all the trimmings on the table for the family meal. Of course there were turnip greens on the table, too. Required at the dessert table were pecan pies, a raisin and pecan cake, a German chocolate cake and fudge.

As I sit here and remember all those special things that my family enjoyed when I was younger, I am making a mental list of just how much of that will be found on my tables this holiday season.

I recently found a recipe for an orange slice cake and found that I still love the orange slices as well. Since my mother’s love of thin mints was passed down to me, I’ll be having those, too.

So as I make my trek to the grocery story, curb market or wherever I can find these things, my list of things to buy for holiday tables consists of chocolate, fruit, coconut, Brazil nuts and maybe even a raisin and pecan cake.

I wonder if my son likes orange slices.