Millions of Midwesterners woke to a wintry wonderland this Christmas morning and the outlook for a settled blanket of white for the Christian holiday is promising. Although last-minute preppers may have cursed the icy roads yesterday, the good nature of the season was evident as neighbors call out “Merry Christmas” in cheerful countenance to all they meet.
Those of us who live in the middle of America do so out of love for traditions long passed down from generation to generation. From jolly old Saint Nick and reindeer gracing the rooftop to evergreen boughs and red ribbons tied along white plank-board farm fencing, there is no place on earth like the flyover states for embracing the true gifts of Christmas.
In the vast plains of Northern Texas, the Castle family is mixing up a cocktail that first surfaced in their family during prohibition. It’s called a Poinsettia, sparkling wine, a shot of vodka infused with cranberries. Sure, there was that pesky law of the land at the time, but most enterprising imbibers found a way around it—at least for the annual Christmas party.
The Kane family in Indiana will enjoy a subdued Christmas Eve of soup and bread, and break out the big guns of chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes and green beans. The eggnog appears mid-morning on Christmas Day and is loaded with Cognac, spiced rum and brandy. As has been the norm for a better part of half century, all presents are opened on Christmas morning. Don’t even ask for that one itty bitty gift reveal on Christmas Eve. You may get the dreaded stink-eye from the matriarch of that clan.
In North Eastern New Mexico, traditional feasts of green and red chilli stew, tamales, (filled with corn flour dough, meats and cheeses with Hatch Chilies, steamed in corn husks), and handmade tortillas will grace the tables of most families.
The Carter family of Des Moines, Iowa has had their family celebration at the homestead for as long as anyone can remember. The count for 2017 is 22 adults, 27 children and an assortment of pets. The Carters load up their old hay wagon, harness the horses, grab the peppermint schnapps and visit the neighboring farms (weather permitting). Although a few of the old-timers stay home to prepare the dining tables for their return. It’s quite the production but nary a generation has complained or attempted to change it up in any way.
We yearn for the familiar especially during this time of year; we want the angel atop the tree to be placed by the youngest member of the family, the delectable scents of evergreens, freshly made yeast rolls with melting butter, and the aroma of the cookies to fill our senses and remind us of the kind of love that comes with celebrating this Christian Holiday. That love is forever and it lives inside of each and every one of us and we’d all do well to try and keep Christmas in our hearts the other 364 days a year. The people who live in middle America will wish you Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukah and Happy New Year. And yes, we also say Merry Christmas in Flyover America; not because we wish to exclude those who do not celebrate the son of God, but because this is our day to be grateful for Christ.
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