The first snow of a New England winter was always exciting, but snow at Christmas was exhilarating. Snow made me want hot chocolate and marshmallows. It helped me believe in Santa Claus. It brought time off from school, and it gave us the chance to go outside to build snowmen, snow forts, and snow weapons. One year, when I was about ten years old, I stood in our kitchen on East Center Street in Wallingford, Connecticut and taunted my younger brother (who was playing in the back yard) through the window until he threw an icy snowball so hard it broke the glass. I was that annoying.
And we all ate snow. My children carried on the tradition. Did it have a flavor? I don’t remember. Maybe it was the lovely sensation of that cold white fluff melting down the back of the throat that led to soaking wet mittens and frequent trips inside to visit the bathroom. I haven’t eaten snow for years. Maybe it’s time to try again.
“Eating Snow,” Mara Bryner, William Gilmore, and Paul Bryner, Anchorage, Alaska, 1979
A prized cookie cutter from our house on Whirlwind Hill is shaped like a heart. It comes from a set of four – heart, club, spade, and diamond. For many, many years I used these cutters to make ginger cookies at Christmas. Eventually I just used the heart. The shape was so pleasing, and when frosted with pink butter-cream icing, they reminded me of every picture I had ever seen of the iconic gingerbread man. I always used the gingerbread man recipe from the New York Times cookbook, and added a little almond extract to the frosting, just like my mother would have done.
“Heart Cookies,” Carol Crump Bryner, gouache and colored pencil, 2015
My taste runs toward the savory. If offered my dessert first I’ll probably refuse. I like my veggies and my salad and my protein. But when the second week of December comes, I remember fondly all the sweet and wintry food associated with past Christmas festivities and traditions. As I sit at my desk this month, with the darkening sky outside my window and the cozy lights inside, I feel ready to share memories of some seasonal treats. For the next twelve days, starting on Monday, I’ll post one a day until Christmas. I hope these posts rekindle some of your own memories of family celebrations and good cheer.
“Studio Window with Little Lights,” Carol Crump Bryner, gouache and colored pencil, 2010