Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


Hemingway Family Rituals

Until contemplating the topic for this round of posts, I had not necessarily thought of our family Christmas rituals as traditions, but I like the word "tradition" and from now on, that's the way I'll think of them.

Each year we (just my husband and I now that our children are grown) go out to cut our own Christmas tree, and for the last 15 years or more we've gone to the same small tree farm in the Catoctin Mountains of Maryland, not far from the presidential Camp David. Some years the selection is better than others, but I inevitably lose my sense of "room size" when out in the woods and we come home with a tree so large it's difficult to carry inside, set up in a tree stand, and then decorate, even with a ladder. Fortunately our log cabin has a vaulted ceiling and open beams, but my husband's back can no longer tolerate these oversized trees. Now I am held to a 10 to 12 foot limit.

Another tradition began with our son's first Christmas (when he was just one week old)--the gift of a Christmas tree ornament for each child's stocking in keeping with their personalities and interests. By the time our children left home and started their own families, they had quite an assorted collection of ornaments to take with them. Now we continue the same tradition by choosing special ornaments for each of our grandchildren's stockings.

And finally another tradition--baking. I do bake some Christmas cookies, but the older I get, the less patience I have for decorating them and the more I try to avoid consuming them. However, I do love baking bread, especially our old family recipe for shredded wheat and molasses bread. I start several days before Christmas and try to deliver to special friends and neighbors while the loaves are still hot from the oven. Of course I do save a few loaves for our own family. Feel free to enjoy the recipe below:

Shredded Wheat and Molasses Bread

3 shredded wheat biscuits (the large ones)
3 cups boiling water
1/2 cup molasses
2 TBSP oil
2 tsp salt
1 pkg. dry yeast, soaked in 1/2 cup tepid water
Around 10 cups of flour (enough to make a good dough)

Pour boiling water over broken wheat biscuits; when cool, add yeast which has been soaked in 1/2 cup warm water in meantime. Add molasses, oil, salt. Mix in enough flour to make a good dough; knead, let rise in greased bowl until double in size (about 2 hours). Then punch down and knead again, divide in two and place in greased loaf pans to rise for about 1 hour more. Cover lightly with a towel while rising both times. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes; then reduce to 350 degrees for about 45 minutes more. Makes 3 medium or 2 large loaves.

Enjoy warm from the oven, toasted, or for sandwiches!


Christy said...

A cozy cabin in the snow with a beautiful tree decorated with unique and personal ornaments and the smell of baking bread. Thanks for transporting me and delighting all my senses! You surely have wonderful traditions. I bet you know some pretty Christmas tunes for your dulcimer too.

We will get our tree this weekend. I'll crank up the Christmas music as we decorate. We have some favorites--a Beach Boys Christmas album, a Caribbean one with Reggae Christmas tunes, and a lounge lizard one. That's when it really starts to feel like holiday time.

Stephanie said...

That bread sounds fabulous! We've cut our own tree whenever we can. This year our $5 Forest Service permit got us a 14 footer that grazes the ceiling...

Lauren said...

Edie, you DO have family traditions and have been busily making them for many years now, it sounds like. Your tree and the ornaments are lovely, in fact your entire Christmas sounds just like the Christmas's I love. And what an interesting bread! I have never heard of Shredded Wheat and Molasses bread. I think I will try it! Thanks!

David LaRochelle said...

What a lovely photo of your tree. Like Christy, I felt for a moment I was transported to your cabin! Your bread sounds yummy...and very unique. It's been quite a few years since I've baked any sort of bread, but the thought of filling my apartment with that delicious smell has suddenly become very tempting.

Edie Hemingway said...

I do hope you try the bread recipe, Lauren and David. I can guarantee it will be delicious, but a little gooey when kneading. It's well worth the effort.

john said...

Edie, I'm a big bread fan, and I've not heard of that one either. Thanks for transporting us and giving us the recipe.

Mark said...

Thanks for sharing some of your traditions, Edie, and for the recipe. Sounds grubbing!!!