The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

By Susan Wiggins

Christmas Memories

A Page of History


I decided this week I would not search for articles of my mother, Marion Deaver; but rather search my memories and write about Christmas at the Deaver house when I was growing up.

Once, as an adult in my thirties, I remember the topic of Sunday School was about making memories for Christmas. I felt sad at the time because I couldn’t think of any specific memories of what we did on Christmas morning, which was the requested topic.

I vowed to make it different for my children and have specific things that we did Christmas morning for my children to remember.

I thought we could have a special breakfast. Guess what I thought about? That’s right- my mom’s cinnamon rolls, the ones that she called butterscotch biscuits, and sliced oranges, sprinkled with sugar.

So there it was, I did have special memories that I just took for granted at the time. My youngest child is almost 31, and if any of them are here on Christmas morning, there had better be butterscotch biscuits and oranges.

So as I decided to write this column other memories came flooding back. My mother was a journalist and every Christmas she made things to give out to those who had helped her during the year.

She also included law enforcement, fire personnel, and others who provided her with information all year.

I remember one year she decided to make miniature Christmas trees out of greasewood branches stuffed into a coffee can and sprayed silver. This, of course, involved my father, Paul, who had to drive her out into the desert, cut branches, bring them home, stuff them in cans, and spray them silver.

My mother abhorred shopping of any kind, so she would send my dad downtown to buy the ornaments that she would hang on the branches. They had to be tiny ornaments, not the one-inch kind. You guessed it- back to the store my dad would go to get the right ones.

My mom would cover the coffee cans with foil and them she and my dad would deliver them. I thought they were really pretty, so I always got one to take to my teacher, making me “special,” at least for a day.

Those trees were made for several years and then she switched to fruit cakes. She could only use S & W fruitcake mix, which meant that sometimes we had to go to Bakersfield to find the jars of dried fruit goodness.

Most people turn up their noses at fruitcake, but not my mom’s. She made them in chicken pot pie pans, recycled, of course. (We ate a lot of chicken pot pies!)

She would make the cakes, with my assistance, and then pour them into those little pans. After they baked and cooled, we would carry them into the spare bedroom that had two twin beds, and put them out everywhere.

Then the fun would begin. They needed to be “marinated” with alcohol. There was no way my depression-era mother was going to put brandy on all of them, because it cost too much, so---- we “doused” them with a gallon of Gallo Port! To this day, no matter how expensive it is, or how well-aged, I will not drink Port.

The cakes were made right after Thanksgiving and “doused” every week by me until right before Christmas when they were wrapped in foil and delivered.

That bedroom reeked of Port, and the more they were “doused” the worse it smelled.

But I will tell you something, it worked. People fought over those little cakes. When delivered to various law enforcement personnel, they would take them to their cars because the cakes smelled so much of alcohol.

They really were good, somehow the Port worked, and people asked all year if she was going to make them again the next year. To heck with trees, these were the real deal!

Some years my mom and dad would drive out to the desert along windswept hills and pick “native plants” to make a wreath for the house. I will not name the plant because now it is not legal to pick it!

She would add a bow and tiny bulbs and hang it on the door. I loved those wreaths. Merry Christmas!


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