TOLEDO BLADE ARTICLE, 1984. MY MOM & HER BROTHER WES AT TOP
For years, my mother's brothers and sisters got together the day after Thanksgiving for a day of making candy that would be divided between the families for gift giving and enjoyment over the holiday season. There were 6 children in my mom's family so when we got together along with all the cousins, it was a houseful! We alternated between the aunts or uncles who lived in the Archbold area. Those who lived elsewhere would usually drive in for the day and sometimes make it an overnight stay.
Everyone participated in some way. Of course, the 'stove' duties were always filled by the adults, but there were also fun things for the kids to do if they wanted to. Sometimes we just played with our cousins, but for the most part, it was a family affair and everyone enjoyed helping. There were usually cut-out cookies for decorating with all kinds of frosting colors and toppings which the kids enjoyed putting their artistic touches to. We would also get to help roll buckeyes and dip pretzels, or wrap caramels in waxed paper. It was an assembly line process at times, with shoulder to shoulder family! These are some of my happiest memories.
We always stopped at lunch time and had a meal together. This was a family of good cooks. Our lunches were somewhat of a pot luck with everyone bringing dishes to pass. The aunts did not cut corners. Hot dogs and macaroni and cheese were not on the menus! Everything about this day was touched with love. The love of being together with family, the love of sharing the work of making the candy, and the love of laughter.
Don't get the idea, though, that this was anything other than a 'work' day. By the end of the day there would be well over 100 pounds of candy to divide up. I think, looking back, the only regret was that my mom guarded that candy with an iron fist!! We begged to eat it but her response was always the same: "no, it's to give away". It was used as gifts...for the mailman, teachers, friends, neighbors, and taken to the Eash family Christmas get together where we were free to eat what we wanted!
One year I decided it would be fun to contact the food editor at the Toledo Blade, the local newspaper to see if she would be interested in featuring our family. I wrote to her early in the year about our candy making day. We were so excited and surprised when she contaced us and the plans were made for her to come out with a photographer on that day to interview the family and take pictures. It was a full page spread in the newspaper. (The above picture is a small part of the article. The cousins sat around the table with all kinds of candy as the picture was 'staged'. You can see the top of my head at the bottom of the picture on the right. ) In recent years, I found the original article that my mom had saved and decided to scan some of it to post on the blog.
It's a very special memory. What a fun day that was!! We felt like celebreties!
As the families grew, cousins married and moved away, aunts and uncles passed away, the candy making day became the responsiblity of each individual family. We've struggle to keep it alive, but busy schedules and the distance of miles have made it difficult. Most of us still make candy the day after Thanksgiving, but at our own home, with our own family. Once in a while a few of us will try to arrange to get together to do it, but it doesn't happen often. Much of the joy of that day is missing without other family members to help with the work and enjoy the day with.
I will be making candy the day after Thanksgiving this year. It will just be my husband and myself, so we won't be making 100 pounds, but I do have big plans. I'll be making:
PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE
ALMOND BON BONS
This is a postscipt: Today, the day after Thanksgiving, I made a batch of buckeyes, almond roca, and peanut butter fudge. I'll make more candy tomorrow. I have to say, making candy by yourself is not much fun. I did put Christmas music on the radio and that helped make the atmosphere 'merry', but my mind was filled with memories of my mom and siblings getting together to make candy, and all the holiday merriment involved. There would be singing, laughter, and the more hands you have, the more candy you are able to make in one day! I truly miss those days!!