Ever since I can remember I have loved eggnog. While passing Fannie May Candies I eyed a sign in the window advertising their new item: Cheesecake. Like Homer Simpson spying a donut I muttered, "mmmm cheeeeesecake..." I adore cheesecake, too. Fannie May has brought together two of my favorite holiday treats! Eggnog cheesecake! Again, I mentally take on another character; Will Ferrell's Buddy the Elf. I was subconsciously singing in the mall, "CHEESECAKE! I loooooooooove cheesecake and eggnog..eggnog cheesecake.. I-WANT-TO- EAT- IT- NOW!" I'm sure my co-worker was unaware of the scenario blaring through my head. Had this truly happened I'm sure I'd still be explaining to mall security how I managed to escape from my straight jacket.
When did the love affair between eggnog and my taste buds first blossom? I can't recall the first time my tongue lapped up the delicious dairy-nog, but I assure you it was non-alcoholic. I do know that my mother made it from scratch. I cannot tell you how she concocted my most favorite and beloved holiday beverage. The treat she made far surpasses any gunk you can buy pre-made. Her's was smooth, not too heavy or thick. My taste buds were doing the dance of the Sugar Plum Faeries as it slid down my throat. She'd dollop frothy egg whites on top with a light dusting of nutmeg. My eyes would dance wildly with excitement just awaiting that first sip. Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve were the only occasions eggnog was brought to the buffet table. I suppose that made it all that more special to me (and still is to this day).
Each Christmas season I am rabid for eggnoggy products. Eggnog to drink (I cut the commercial stuff with 2% milk...too thick). Eggnog Latte' at Starbucks. Eggnog ice cream at Oberweis. I bought a quart of Oberweis eggnog to add to my coffee in the morning. And now, Eggnog cheesecake at Fannie May. I'd probably use eggnog flavored toothpaste if it were on the market.
Eggnog brings me back to the happiness that was my childhood. The thrills of traditions created by my beautiful mother. Her image in the kitchen; singing her favorite Christmas songs. Her voice a sweet sound. Her song erased any sadness or disappointment I may have felt. Momma's Emeraude perfume lofting in the air. It's melodically stuck in my nasal cavity.
You see, drinking eggnog is more than just consumption of a holiday beverage for me. It's chocked full of beautiful memories. It's not only a memory of a punch bowl filled with a creamy concoction; it's recollection of admiration and love. Not only my regard toward my mother, but her regard to me as her child. She created memories that are sacred.
Everything was perfect at Christmastime. She taught me that wrapping a gift wasn't just a means to keep it secretive, it was to be done with loving care. Each fold of the paper was her way of giving of herself. Every gift inside was a piece of her heart and soul. My mother didn't haphazardly slap on wrapping, sloppily apply the tape or smack on a bow without care. She was an artist.
She worked in customer service at Montgomery Ward when I was a wee tot. I loved going to see her there at Christmas. She was the master gift wrapper. I think people came to know she'd not only don their package with the shimmering foil paper, but she'd treat their purchases as if she'd bought them herself for someone special.
There was a lot to learn from my mom. I often wish she was here to counsel me in my day to day life. I suppose in many ways she does. She had far more patience than I. Mom could turn around any one's frown, sadness or dismay. I think over time it became a curse. No matter who she encountered, people loved her.
My Dad wrote a short Christmas story with my Mom as the main character. I hope to find a copy of it and share it here. After years of observing how my Mom pulled together Christmas (even if the money wasn't there), my Dad speculated that Santa had to be a woman; his wife. Mom created magic at Christmas. It was truly the most incredible homage any man could pay to his wife; the mother of his 8 children (after her death he remarried an extraordinary woman; through that union 2 more children blessed our family and new traditions would be made).
Christmas is a glorious time overflowing with memories. Love is what abounds in my heart because of the unconditional love bestowed upon me by my parents. My enchanting mother taught me that Christmas is magic. It's not magic that comes from a wand or a potion. It's the magic you feel in your very soul.