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Published on December 21, 2021

Why we celebrate Christurkmas

By Shirley Prihoda
The Bulletin

There was a time not too long ago when blended families were rare. Now, it’s an anomaly to have the parents you were born to under the same roof. Sometimes the “blending” works as the name implies, and sometimes it doesn’t.

If you find yourself in the latter situation, there’s work to be done. First, pack away the expectations of a Hallmark movie Christmas. I am certain if we could see behind the scenes, most of the writers are writing about the Christmas for which they wished.

Next, appreciate the fact that the ugly sweater contest lasts for a microsecond unless the AC is set on 65°. Acknowledge and accept the fact there will not be an “over the hills we go” jingle bell sleigh ride to grandma’s house. Mainly because there’s more grandmas than can be counted on one hand. Well, there’s also the lack of white stuff covering the ground.

When we blended our families in 1989, my expectations were like a Hallmark movie. Reality was different. Two of our three children were married to spouses of blended families too, so the dynamics of planning Christmas took on a complexity that NASA would find challenging.

After four years of planning, shopping, cooking, and cleaning the house so that it would look as if no one lives there, and then getting the kids for 30 minutes before they had to move on to another family and another meal, it was time to put away my expectations of a “perfect Christmas.” It was time to assess the basics of “who and what is important.” I vowed 1993 would be different.

I waited a few weeks to ensure I could live with my plan, then told them the holidays going forward would look differently. Papa and I were going to combine Thanksgiving and Christmas and select a day halfway between the two to celebrate both as one holiday.

This way we could have them for this special day and also free them to celebrate the traditional days however they chose.

Surprisingly, there wasn’t any pushback. It may have had something to do with my sad face at Christmas, but I am attributing it to their holiday digestive system overload. At any rate, a plan was born, and it worked out nicely since the “who and what” is to give thanks for the Child born on Christmas day.

A few years passed, and we shared our engineered holiday with others facing the same quandary of family expectations. It became apparent we needed to give our holiday a name. The children and grandchildren were charged with naming it. There were two requirements: The name had to include letters from each holiday, and the winner would be determined by secret ballot.

With all eyes watching intently, the suggestions were anonymously printed, and Papa and I read each aloud. Then everyone wrote their choice. To say the voting process was watched with greater intensity than a federal election would be an understatement. (Keeping things fair in blended families is a story for another day.) The votes were tallied, and our holiday had finally received a name worthy of renown: Christurkmas!

Like our holiday’s name, our celebration is not traditional. We want the holiday to revolve around the Christ child, so we have prizes for Bible trivia. And then, there is the hotly contested Farkle championship, complete with a traveling trophy. Our new daughter-in-law won the Farkle championship in 2020, and the trophy has been prominently displayed on her nightstand all year!

Grandma’s Gingerbread

Ingredients

2 Sticks Butter
1 Cup Light Brown Sugar
¾ Cup Molasses
2 Large Eggs, room temperature
3 Cups All-purpose Flour
2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1 Tablespoon Ground Cinnamon
½ Teaspoon Salt
1 ¼ Cups Whole Milk
2 Teaspoons Baking Soda

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Liberally grease and flour two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans.

In a large pot, gently heat the butter, sugar, and molasses until melted. Set aside to cool down.

Once cooled, beat the eggs together before whisking into the molasses mixture.

Sift the flour, spices, and salt over the molasses mixture and whisk in until just combined. Warm the milk in the microwave or on the stove. Whisk the baking soda into the milk. You will see it bubble and activate. Immediately whisk the milk into the molasses mix until well combined. The batter will be thin, and that’s O.K. Pour into the prepared pans.

Bake at 300°F for 45 minutes. Then cover the pans with aluminum foil and continue baking for another 15 minutes. Covering with foil is particularly important!

After an hour, remove the loaves from the oven. Let them rest for 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and place each one in a large Ziploc bag. Zip the bag and allow the loaves to cool completely. This gives the loaves a wonderful sticky top.

(To contact Shirley, please send emails to john.bulletin@gmail.com or write to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, Tx. 77516)