Over the Thanksgiving weekend, my family and I fully committed to the Christmas season. And when I say “fully committed,” I mean my husband helped me put lights and big homemade snowflake decorations up on the outside of the house.
Because I can’t remember the last time he climbed a ladder in the name of decorative lights. I mean, it was even his idea. I swear I looked up to find a couple pigs flying overhead.
A Christmas miracle.
But it was a perfect day to do that sort of thing and we were all home with no other plans besides digesting all the Thanksgiving treats, and so we busted out the five fully disorganized tubs of Christmas decorations and sparkling Santa hats and we loaded the girls up in the side-by-side for a trip to cut the perfect cedar off the ranch.
Tradition. We’re heading into a season where we reminisce while creating moments to reminisce about. And the great Christmas tree hunt always starts and ends the same: heading to the pasture where Papa Gene saw a perfect tree on his last ride, singing along to "Jingle Bells" and "Rudolph" on repeat, spotting one on the horizon only to get closer and realize it’s 75 feet tall, hoofing it up a few steep hills and doing the same thing a few times before we finally we get it right.
Then a family photo, saw, saw, saw, timber, and the realization, upon getting it home to lean up against the entryway wall, that this tree may have been smaller than the last, but not by much. (Note: items on prairie skyline are larger than they appear.)
I’m looking at the tree right now. It legit takes up half the living room. And don’t worry, even though we haven’t learned any lessons on sizing, the great Christmas tree crash of 2019 and 2020 (and probably every year before that) has finally taught us to strap it to the wall first thing. When it about took my oldest daughter out, leaving one lone ornament dangling in her tangled hair, we decided we were done taking chances.
Anyway, we spent the whole weekend decorating and it turns out we needed a ladder for lights on the inside of the house, too. The girls got to work organizing ornaments, laying them out and putting 37 or so on the same two lower branches and I made sure they weren’t looking when I fixed them, and so now Christmas can come.
I don’t know the last time I’ve been this prepared ahead of time. More pigs fly. Another Christmas miracle. Now if I could just find Edie’s stocking that I managed to misplace, we could make it three.
I’m so in the spirit that I spent the afternoon making Momma’s Famous Christmas Fudge for an event in town, another tradition checked off the list. It was a special request, which is a testament to how good the recipe is. No one ever asks me to make dessert.
So because I’m on a roll, I thought this would be the perfect time to share that famous fudge recipe once again — a little early this time so you have the chance to get after it, or fully procrastinate, whichever you choose!
Mom’s Famous Fudge
1 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips
1 12-ounce package milk chocolate chips
3 teaspoons vanilla
4 1/2 cups of sugar
1 pound of butter
1 8-ounce can evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed milk — I won’t make that mistake twice)
Got it? OK, onward. Butter an 8-by-12-inch baking dish. Bring sugar and evaporated milk to a boil, stirring constantly. Continue to stir and boil for 7 minutes.
Remove pot from heat and stir in chocolate chips, vanilla and butter. Stir until smooth and pour into the buttered baking dish. Refrigerate until set.
Muster up your incredible strength to help you cut the fudge into squares and serve it up on cute little platters or in festive tins for your friends. Become the favorite.
Merry Holiday Season from the ranch!
Jessie Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband and daughters on a ranch near Watford City, N.D. She blogs at https://veederranch.com. Readers can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.