My mother, rest her soul, most likely never cooked a Christmas goose or duck in her entire life and that’s okay; the turkey and ham were just fine with that canned cranberry sauce. My job was to check that pop-up thing on the turkey, which was an important job and I was happy to do it. The holiday fare I grew up on rode the middle rail of Southern cuisine all through the ’60s and ’70s. We had “dressin’” in a pan, which was basically cornbread stuffing, non-stuffed. Home-canned green beans dad grew in the garden that Summer, along with other veggies. Waldorf Salad and cherry Jello with some canned fruit wiggling around in it were always around too and if mom was in the mood, there would be some Dream Whip topping for the Jello. I always got to lick the mixer tines. On the eves of things, there were always Lipton French Onion Soup mixed in sour cream for chip dip, and nuts you had to crack and pick at. My mom always made a spice cake she called “frosted cremes,” which didn’t last long and since the day she died, no one has been able to duplicate. Then there would be the attack on the Hickory Farms box sent by my dad’s office followed by trying to figure out what to do with the gifted fruitcake.
We would pretty much live off the Christmas leftovers, and pick at that fruitcake clear through to New Year’s Day, at which time we had collards, black-eyed peas, ham, and cornbread.