I planned to write this post detailing how it included my favorite things — rum and balls, of course. And then I was going to integrate how appropriate Rum Balls are during the holiday season because of the infamous Pete Schweddy’s Balls. And then I planned to go into the typical territory that we all need alcohol to get through the holiday season with the stress of busy schedules, travel, not enough money, and families that drive us crazy. And don’t forget the dinner table arguments with Republicans. (I kid because I love, Dad.)
But I’m not going to do that.
Because in the last three weeks, our family and friends have been crushed by loss. A dear family friend and the mother of one of our best friends lost her battle with pancreatic cancer. A friend lost her best friend to a heart condition. We (and some of our dearest, old friends) lost a friend we went to high school with when he died of a sudden heart attack at 38 years old (with a wife and two boys, 10 and 7). And now, another friend has lost her 44 year old brother (with a 2 year old and a baby on the way) to a sudden heart attack also.
So my thought is this: please take the next few days and embrace those around you. Tell them how much you love them and how much they mean to you. Don’t argue over whether someone bought a cheap bottle of wine. Don’t worry that the presents aren’t wrapped yet (Cuizoo, I’m talking to you.) If the pine needles haven’t been adequately vacuumed before the company comes, ignore it. I have distinct memories of being a little girl with pine needles on the floor and in all of my presents. It’s OK and it hasn’t scarred me or anything. If you didn’t get the last two batches of cookies made, skip it. Against all of my normal advice, go to the store and buy something pre-made. I’m buying a deliciously non-organic, non-pastured, antibiotic-fed Honeybaked Ham for Christmas Eve. So there!
As I was passing a fellow parent at school drop off today, she remarked that Christmas is only magical for kids because they don’t have to do any of the work. True enough, I guess. But we need to step outside all of the work and find the magic in simply being together, as contrived as that might sound. We need to cut ourselves a few breaks and not hold one another to insane standards that aren’t attainable. We need to let go of anger and silly bickering.
We need to think about children who have lost parents and remember that the only thing our kids truly care about is that we are together (even if they claim they are pissed about not getting a Wii). We need to hold our siblings and parents and grandparents a little tighter, knowing that this ride doesn’t last forever. Some of us have been taught these lessons already. Some of us will learn soon enough.
So, Merry Christmas and Happy 2011. Please hug those who make you feel safe. Tell them that you love them. Thank them for all they do for you. And raise a glass to those we have lost too soon.
Makes about 3 dozen
2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs, from a 9 oz. box (I do this in the food processor)
2 cups toasted pumpkin seeds, finely chopped (or other nuts … I do this in the processor too)
4 t. light corn syrup
Pinch of salt
2 generous shot glasses of good quality rum (I used a pure cane sugar rum)
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
1. Combine vanilla wafer crumbs, chopped pumpkin seeds, corn syrup, and salt. Stir in rum. If mixture is too dry, you may need a bit more rum. It should be clumpy, so you can roll into balls.
2. Put powdered sugar on a plate.
3. Taking about 1 heaping teaspoon of the rum ball mixture, roll into a ball using the palms of your hands. Drop into powdered sugar and coat well. Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining rum ball mixture. When finished, place rum balls in a ziploc bag and store in the refrigerator. They are best if made up ahead and allowed to “ripen” for a few days (my grandmother’s words). (This is the only time you want balls to be ripe.)