Christmas Food Memories

Best sugar cookie recipe for christmas

“There is such comfort in having the same foods, cooked the same way, at all seasons of the year, but most especially at Christmas. Their importance lies not simply in the familiar. It is an affirmation of our surname and its traditions. It means we were not born having to learn everything anew; our ancestors were here, working the land, cooking and passing on to us the good things they had learned. That is why we cherish old family recipes and traditions. They are our history and fill us, rightfully so, with pride and tenderness for those men and women long gone. Christmas is to me, in main part, the food I knew as a child,…”

—Jean Boone Benfield – “Mountain Born”

I was reminded of Benfield’s words over the weekend when Chitter came into the kitchen when I was making a few of our favorite Christmas treats.

She said “Momma you know what I’m most thankful for this Christmas?”

“No, tell me.” I replied while drying my hands on a dishtowel.

“For you. I’m thankful that you make all the special things we love at Christmas. I don’t usually help, but I get to smell the wonderful smells and eat the wonderful things you make for us.”

I was pleased Chitter is thankful for me, but I’m more pleased that at her age she already sees the important things in life—not me the person—but the traditions and comfort offered lovingly to her by family.


Subscribe for FREE and get a daily dose of Appalachia in your inbox

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    December 22, 2021 at 2:50 pm

    That put a lump in my throat Tipper. Reading this got me tearer eyed. It shows you brought her up right. GOD BLESS YOU!❤

  • Reply
    December 21, 2021 at 8:03 pm

    My family tradition was to always have finger foods on Christmas Eve. Growing up my mom always made all different kinds of finger foods to eat. After eating we were allowed to open one present from under the tree. It was just the best time ever eating all the foods with our hands. I think we enjoyed eating all those finger foods just as much as opening one of our gifts. As we grew older, got married, had children of our own, we each brought our own finger foods to gather at our parents home. As our families grew, some moved further away and sharing our time with our spouses families so we had to change our Christmas gathering to a day we could all be together with our parents. It might be any weekend before Christmas, but we always ate finger foods, even if it was ordered from someplace local or picked a tray up from a store deli. Since both my parents and a sibling have passed, the remaining siblings and I don’t get together at Christmas due to us all now living in different states and the growth of our own families. Regardless where we are, each of us in our own homes still carry on the tradition we grew up with in having finger foods to celebrate Christmas Eve.

  • Reply
    December 21, 2021 at 3:15 pm

    With 80 summers behind me, Christmas with my parents and siblings is but a fond memory. What started as 11 folks is now down to 4 and 2 of them are in care facilities. We are scattered in 3 states; so being together at Christmas is more correctly focused on our children and grandchildren. The memories are wonderful. The smell of cedar or a baking ham bring them flooding back. Unfortunately, most of the Christmas foods contain too much sugar and too many carbs for one with type II diabetes; but I plan to indulge in a bit of egg nog (float for Tipper and others).


  • Reply
    Ray Presley
    December 21, 2021 at 11:36 am

    Thanks to Tipper for posting that very apt description of family traditions from Jean Boone Benfield’s “mountain Born.” And it always tugs at our heart strings when our children take the time to thank us for preserving traditions and creating a warm and loving environment for them, things that they can pass on to their own children and others.

  • Reply
    GoodGriefLouise (Bill )
    December 21, 2021 at 11:33 am

    Well Chitter’s thankfulness is a testament to her upbringing.

  • Reply
    Kat Swanson
    December 21, 2021 at 10:41 am

    In the coalfields of Va, my mom made holiday turkey dressing…once she made a stack cake …often made divinity candy ..which I will make this week. We were poor and just getting enough food every day to feed a coal miner and 5kids was a challenge . My husband’s tidewater Va. family always cooked a salty ham . They also made custard and jelly…which is thin rich vanilla homemade pudding and Knox gelatin made with lemons and a drop of red food coloring . This is made in a thick crystal bowl and served together in crystal dishes or goblets, with a thin slice of fruitcake. You can see THAT would not have happened in my Appalachia. But it is pretty and I do make it myself. We use the same custard for making ice cream in the churn in summer.
    With my own kids I made at least 10 different recipes of cookies every Christmas ,packed them in big decorative tins, and my husband and kids distributed the plates and boxes of them to our neighbors each Christmas.
    Many times when I would speak on reclaiming your own stories, I would use foods and smells as a way in…into your memories. One person told me that the smell of collard greens took her right back to her roots….for another ,it was cinnamon…one man remembered his mother’s ginger biscuits. I encourage all you readers to take the time to write your memories, maybe even your recipes down. Get a cheap spiral notebook…or a marble notebook at Walmart. Write longhand and doodle in the margins….draw a picture of your mom’s apron….draw the stove she cooked on and the shelf of spices she used. The process of doing this is a wonderful trip , especially this time of year. If you are thinking…well no one cares about that…no one’s here to read that….do it anyway…for yourself. It is a trip so worth the taking ! All hearts go home at Christmas.

  • Reply
    Barbara Parker
    December 21, 2021 at 9:49 am

    Family is so very important. As the older generations leave this world it’s up to the remaining generations to continue to carry on family traditions. I try to do that. My specialty is a black walnut cake with seven minute frosting. My family members always like that. The entire process involves picking up the walnuts, hulling, washing, cracking, picking out the goodies, looking the goodies to make sure no walnut shell accidently got in there, and then the fun and easy process of making the cake. That’s the old fashioned way, now we can go to the store and buy the packs of walnuts and make the cake in short time flat. Until my Mother went to Heaven, I didn’t realize all the prep work of getting the walnuts ready for the cake. Now that she’s not here with us and I’ve gone through the process I realize how hard it was for her to do all that. In true Appalachian fashion, she never complained about it, she just did what needed to be done with a smile and a heart of gratitude. Mothers teach us a lot of lessons along the way. As we are growing up and watching we might not pay much attention, then when they are gone and it’s our turn to do, we pick up and try as best we can, all the time remembering and being thankful for the lessons learned along the way, and thanking God for the precious family He has given to us.

  • Reply
    December 21, 2021 at 9:22 am

    Ron, I could have wrote the same comment that you made. My wife passed away this year during surgery. We would have been married 47 years and we dated for over 2 years. She was a real good cook. She was 16 and I was 17 when we started going together. I never wanted anyone else.

    Sheryl for the last 10 years either me or my wife have lost a family member each year. Her family meant as much to me as my own. This year it was my wife and a brother in law. Hospice is with one of my wife’s uncles right now. We try to carry on but it is not the same. The death of my wife makes this year the worst. She was the heart of me and her children and grandchildren.

    I encourage everyone to spend ever minute you can with your family not only on special occasions but throughout the year. Outside of your relationship to God nothing in this world is more important than your family. Please don’t wait until it too late to realize this.

  • Reply
    December 21, 2021 at 9:07 am

    Jean Boone Benfield’s statements on Comfort food touches our hearts as family and traditions are precious to us and how wonderful that your daughters at their young age realize it.
    Sanford, I smiled when I read your comment. I seem to break that grammar rule of not ending a sentence with a preposition a lot, so its good to know why I do it:)
    I made a Christmas cookie that is one of those treasured cookies for my children and it was for my husband too. I had one cookie tin made up to send down South to my oldest son and to get it there before Christmas I paid $22.00. He was supposed to get it today, but it actually arrived yesterday. He opened it and said “they taste so good like Christmas at home.”

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 21, 2021 at 8:57 am

    Tipper, you are the embodiment of traditions for Chitter. She can’t appreciate the one without the other because you and they are inseparable. Chitter gave you a good and gracious Christmas present in the truest spirit of Christmas. You two have raised them well and it shows.

  • Reply
    Angelyn McLain
    December 21, 2021 at 8:51 am

    Christmas has changed so much for our family. One child has moved away and we only get to see him a couple of times each year. Thank goodness our daughter is only about 2 hours away so she and her husband will be here for Christmas. Dad comes for Thanksgiving but not Christmas. He lives in another state. Mom has been gone for 8 years now. Lots of changes since the kids have grown up. We have a beautiful Granddaughter who is 4 but she lives about 10 hours away. Thank goodness we can Skype with her.
    Thank goodness the Lord never changes and He is the reason for this holiday.
    Meanwhile, we cook and love and cherish every moment we have together and sometimes make new traditions along the way.
    Merry Christmas everyone and Tipper thanks so much for Blind Pig and the Acorn, Your Youtube channel and the reading of Mountain Path.

  • Reply
    Lori Hughes
    December 21, 2021 at 8:51 am

    This post resonated strongly inside of me. I have very few family members left and my daughters are too busy for me but memories I have, by the thousands. Thank you Tipper. I am thankful for you as well. I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas.

  • Reply
    Kathy Gautier
    December 21, 2021 at 7:42 am

    Making memories is what life is all about. My Grandma, my mother’s momma, always made a raisin cake at Christmas. It was yellow layers with a white frosting with ground up raisins in it. The frosting would soak into the cake and it would be so moist and delicious. It did not taste like raisins, just moist and sweet. My husband, who hates raisins BTW, would eat all he could hold! Hahaha. This year our son asked if I could remember how to make Grandma’s raisin cake (his great grandma). I told him I would try since I had not made it in over 40 years, and never by myself, I had always helped Grandma, who has since passed on. So, I thought and searched and finally found a recipe that with a couple of tweaks was just like Grandma’s cake. I told my mother (now 89) and my sister about the cake and my Mother said she had been wanting a raisin cake like Momma’s for three years. I took them a big chunk of the cake, and they loved it. My mother cried when she ate it, she said because of all the memories of the cake. I told her I was sorry it made her sad, and she said not sad, just remembering good times gone by. I told her this would make memories for all of us. I wish everyone in the Blind Pig family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  • Reply
    Margie G
    December 21, 2021 at 7:37 am

    I really think Christmas is all about memories, traditions, food from the heart and special sweet treats that all warm the soul. Many young people don’t have firm footing so they wander like birds or beasts looking for something meaningful in their lives. Many are filled with hate and rage because their parents were too busy or dysfunctional ( by design) to care about the one thing that matters- family. I pray daily for the young who don’t know and weren’t taught about Christ. Pray and pray with all your might for our people young and old and unborn… Merry Christmas to ALL as we love, forgive and hang on to truth in this sin bound world. The only change in man is from Jesus and to deny it simply means one is foolish. Period. Reach out and tell someone about Jesus this Christmas because he’s everything!!!! Be a secret Santa to someone totally down, depressed, poor or even on drugs! Be light in the darkness and just do it without questioning the “other guy who could but he won’t cause he’s a lazy good for nothing bum. Do something without any questions or commentary. Step out of the zone and into the mission field where the harvest is plentiful and workers are few.

  • Reply
    Ron Bass
    December 21, 2021 at 7:11 am

    Maintaining our Christmas traditions keeps me grounded in the real meaning of Christmas, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Having the same foods reminds me of my parents and grandparents who lived their life for Christ and taught me to do the same. Although I’m not a very good cook, God blessed me with a wife who is. We just celebrated our 49th anniversary and still living each other.
    God Bless you for your blog.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 21, 2021 at 7:10 am

    The past two Christmas’s have been mourning for lost family members. We didn’t have Christmas dinner but met for dessert and to exchange gifts. I missed our traditions.

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney
    December 21, 2021 at 7:03 am

    The wonderful thing about these memories is that Chitter will have them for a lifetime. Chitter will be even more happy and thankful that she has a good Mom as the years fly by. Just broke a grammar rule, do not end a sentence with a preposition, but that is the way we talk.

  • Reply
    donna sue
    December 21, 2021 at 6:51 am

    Your girls are very wise, all the time. You are very blessed! It is very sad when family traditions are lost because no one wants to be the one to keep them up for the next generation. Food is such an important part of our everyday lives. It can evoke the strongest memories in us. I love reading about all the holiday traditions people across the US and the world have. Thank you for sharing the traditions typical in your family, and in the Appalachians. I love them all!

    Donna. : )

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 21, 2021 at 6:25 am

    Both your girls have a solid foundation in family and tradition! It is heartwarming to see that in action. It’s there all the time but seems to shine through more at Christmas! Actually, I think my statement is not correct. In your girls their sense of family is always strongly present!

  • Reply
    Martha D Justice
    December 21, 2021 at 6:18 am

    Losing these traditions is one of my greatest fears for the future as far as families go. This generation seems not to be interested in learning the recipes from the past, everything has to be “instant or store bought” . Maybe the reason is that most of them work outside the home and are raising children that are involved in so many activities that there is just no time or energy left to do the things we did. Enjoy your time with your girls, I love seeing them on your videos. MERRY CHRISTMAS ❤

  • Reply
    December 21, 2021 at 6:17 am

    You put into words what I’ve had in my heart for years! Thank you

  • Reply
    December 21, 2021 at 5:24 am

    Making those memories and traditions help future generations carry on. Your children will always remember these warm Christmas traditions and pass some along to their own children. I read once that sticking to your routines and keeping structure in your life is one of the best things one can do to overcome the difficult or sad happenings in life. I have always remembered that, and especially at Christmastime I try to cook those special dishes we sometimes only cook around holidays. Pumpkin roll is something everybody seems to love!

  • Leave a Reply