Margaret Button | Kitchen Comfort: Time to get in the holiday spirit

I've never been one to start the holiday season on Thanksgiving. I don't go Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving or Black Friday, I don't listen to carols or do anything holiday-ish until Dec. 1. To be honest, I can only do one holiday at a time, so buying my Thanksgiving turkey before Halloween is also out, as is buying Valentine's Day candy before New Year's Day.

I begin to think about Christmas as I eat Thanksgiving Day leftovers, but it's not until Dec. 1 I actually begin to act on anything remotely related to the holidays. So, as a result, I had a mildly busy weekend. Friday, I began my yearly tradition of the "25 days of Christmas earrings," wearing a different pair every day. I also pinned a Christmas pin on the apron I wear for my part-time job in a local supermarket.

I had to break the no-Christmas-on-Thanksgiving rule by having my son drag the bins of Christmas decorations and tree down from the attic when he was home that day, but it was either then or never, since he won't be home again until Christmas. I didn't crack them open or drag the tree from his bedroom (where he left everything) until Saturday. I also broke the rule and bought a beautiful wreath from the North Adams Public Schools Greenhouse Educational Program at its open house Thursday.

Saturday found me digging through the bins for my Christmooses, which I line up on a windowsill. And since I was in the windowsill area, I put all the candles in the windows. I dragged the tree into the living room and rearranged the furniture to accommodate it. As it's one step away from being a Charlie Brown tree, I took plenty of time to "fluff'" the branches and make it look if not good, at least passable. The silver bead garland is on, as are the ornaments. As I write this on Monday, I plan to go home and stick fake poinsettia flowers in any remaining gaping holes — and there are quite a few.

I also decorated the mantelpiece, where "the stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there," as Clement Clarke Moore put it.

Christmas is still a work in progress — I have to write cards, put out my holiday village and do shopping — but at least I've welcomed the holiday season.

I took time out between hanging ornaments on the tree to make a batch of my late Aunt Marion's rum balls, using some leftover spiced rum. The longer they sit, the better they get ... They can also be made with bourbon.

Aunt Marion's rum balls


3 cups vanilla wafer crumbs

1 cup chopped nuts

1 cup confectioners' sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa

1/2 cup light rum

2 tablespoons light corn syrup


In a large bowl, combine vanilla wafer crumbs, chopped nuts, 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, and cocoa. Mix in rum and corn syrup. Shape dough into 1 inch balls; roll in confectioners' sugar.

Store rum balls in an airtight container for at least 2 to 3 days to develop flavor. Roll them again in confectioners' sugar before serving.


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