Thursday, December 2, 2010
Tom Batiuk’s Crankshaft, December 2, 2010. ©2010 Mediagraphics. [Click to embiggen.]
Today’s Crankshaft strip pulled a Memory-Trigger deep in the back of my brain... reminding me of Christmases long past.
Christmas, as my Esteemed Readers know, is not my holiday, given that I am a Red Sea Pedestrian. Nevertheless, when I was a young Snot-Nose, I figured out pretty quickly that, our holiday or not, Christmas was all around, and it was pointless to try and avoid it.
When your friends and neighbors are enjoying their holiday, why begrudge them their enjoyment? Even today, I loathe the sort of political correctness that leads to people calling Christmas trees “Holiday Trees” and to people saying Happy Holidays for fear of offending the non-Christian. I’m no Christian, but if people wish me a Merry Christmas, I thank them and return the favor. When someone offers a simple seasonal pleasantry, they’re not looking for a lecture.
Back in those Snot-Nose days, we would receive the occasional Seasonal Gift. One of my Dad’s employees would always deliver unto us a box of her homemade Christmas cookies: there must have been at least ten different kinds in that box, each a miniature work of art. I can only imagine how frenzied her household must have been when baking season came upon them.
All these years later, and I still remember those cookies - and their donor - with warm affection. Such is the power of Baked Goods on a child’s heart.
Meanwhile, our neighbors across the street had their own routine. We would visit and admire their beautifully decorated Christmas tree, and they would give us a kingly gift: a tray of Rum Balls.
Oh, those Rum Balls - how I loved them! So beautifully spherical, their exterior enrobed in powdered sugar as white as a fresh snowfall, their dark interior redolent with the mysterious and heady fragrance of dark rum... they were, to me, the single most attractive aspect of Christendom. At the very least, they bespoke an atmosphere of neighborliness that made me proud to live in an America in which we can honor our own traditions while enjoying and respecting those of others. (Not bad philosophizin’ for a young Snot-Nose!)
If I were forced to choose between those Christmassy Rum Balls and, something closer to my own traditions - say, rugelach, or chocolate babka, or prune hamantaschen - I might suffer a Cultural Meltdown. (On second thought, nothing beats rugelach and chocolate babka.)
Alas, Rum Balls of that quality seem to be thin on the ground these days. Maybe it’s a trick of my Sense-Memory, but no other Rum Ball I have ingested in the last fifty years even comes close to the ones our neighbors made.
And certainly not these: