Tag Archive | traditions

The gift of Christmas

This weeks’ #WASO theme is ‘Gifts’ and I can’t think of a lovelier theme to end the #WASO year on.

I could go in many directions with this theme. I could be writing about how the boys OCD (obsessive Christmas disorder) has kicked into overdrive this year and their wish lists were not just longer and more thoughtful (they add items to their list that they think various family members may also like to receive from them), but this year they have colour coded it and grouped their suggestions into price brackets so that I would know the order of preference and be able to quickly go to the list and look for a suitable ideas for a gift from someone else to fit their budget – not much control going on there, is there?

Alternatively I could have written about visiting the boys on Christmas day at their foster carers’ and the light bulb moment when I realised that although the boys really did love Christmas, their reaction to the pile of gifts that were spread all over the FC’s conservatory floor showed that our vision of how Christmas morning would play out was miles away from the reality that was laid out in front of me at that time – I am not saying that the boys were anxious or distressed by the volume of presents or overwhelmed by the giddiness of the adults around them. No, if anything they were over compliant and almost indifferent to the all the parcels and gifts, and were more interested in the wonderful Christmas breakfast their foster carer had laid out for them.  Being the amazing and experienced foster carer that she was, she quickly picked up on their hesitation and ‘got the ball rolling’ encouraging them to ‘pick a parcel’ from each other’s pile and hand it to them – Beeswax some months later admitted that he didn’t think any of the gifts were for him or Buzzbee because they were not in Christmas sacks like the ones members of their extended birth family, used to do for them. We had a similar experience, but with their stockings, our first Christmas as a family – they had been put on their beds ready to be opened in the morning (Bumble put them in after ‘Santa’ had dropped them off in the lounge because he didn’t enter  their room because he would have had to knock first and that would have woken them up, of course), but when we went to wake them in the morning they were already awake and sat at the bottom of their beds staring at their unopened stockings. Again they didn’t believe the gifts had been left for them.

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Despite these couple of misinterpretations, the boys’ experience of Christmas time from before they were taken into care, from what we understand and have learnt over the years through talking with different people and going through the boys’ family photo albums with Buzzbee, was not too dissimilar from how we imagined the build up to Christmas should be.  Many of the family traditions that we had hoped to use within our family were already there, it just needed fine tuning. The boys were used to their presents being in sacks and not just spread under the Christmas tree so now we have a compromise – big under tree, little in sacks.  Sharing gifts with family members and spreading out the volume of gifts they open in a day, well actually that is exactly the same – the boys wait to open their presents until we visit the friend or family member or they come to visit us.  Not only does it “make Christmas, even longer”, as Buzzbee says, but the boys don’t become overwhelmed by the volume of gifts (I am still working on our loved ones when it comes to going over the top with gifts for the boys).

While Bumble and I are, on a daily basis, picking up the pieces from the effects of the chronic neglect the boys experienced from their birth parents, it has always been very apparent to us that, while they may have been only papering over the cracks, both maternal and paternal grandparents tried very hard to make up for it and while the boys were visiting, give them as normal a childhood experience as they possibly could.  They may not have been in a position to be able to physically take on the care of both boys full-time, but they had worked hard to normalise and make Christmas day and the build up to it as much of a positive experience as they possibly could for them both, and the positive feedback that the boys received from this has meant that now, while the boys really struggle with birthdays, Mothers’ Days, etc. Christmas time the boys really cherish and ALMOST allow themselves to relax and just go with the flow.

Although each year they are not able to physically give the boys gifts anymore, they have given the boys a gift which is priceless – they have given the boys the ‘Gift of Christmas’!

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Sweet Tooth

This weeks’ #WASO theme is ‘Recipes – and why they are important to our family’.

I don’t have any special recipe that I turn to when the need arises – quite honestly with the range of food anxieties that go on in our house, I barely manage to find a day when we all are eating the same meal, let alone trying to cook something special.

Having said this, I have been thinking about this theme for a few days and one thing occurred to me – although our family haven’t shared any family secret recipes, there are a few members of my family who have ‘signature’ desserts or treats that they often make for special occasions or when then need takes their fancy, which on their own don’t seem significant but for the boys has embedded a sense of expectation and family tradition.

So who makes what?

Let me start with my late mother-in-law! For as long as I have been part of Bumble’s family, Granny Bee has always made her homemade Pavlova for family lunches or special visits. So it is no surprise that Bumble loves a nice Pavlova and ever since the boys moved in they have come to expect that when they visited she will have made one for after lunch.  Although sadly Bumble and the boys no longer have the chance to enjoy delicious treat made by her own hands, she did teach Bumble’s eldest nephew to make it, so I am sure he will keep that tradition alive for some time to come.

If I stick with Bumble’s family for a minute, Grandpa Bee often makes homemade fudge for his sons and grandsons. It doesn’t have to be a special occasion for my father-in-law to decide to make the fudge, but I can almost guarantee that if Bumble has gone up to visit his family, he will return with an ice-cream tub filled with fudge.  Bumble cannot get enough of his dad’s fudge just like the rest of the males in his family.

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Then there is my sister, who makes possibly the most heavenly cupcakes, along with novelty cakes for most family occasions.  The boys are certainly not alone in their adoration of their auntie’s cakes and know just exactly how to obtain a new batch of cakes from her – flattery gets them everywhere when it comes to my sister and her cakes.

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And, that just leaves me!  I suppose I fit into two different boxes for this.

I love making truffles and family, friends and even social workers are only too happy to devour the entire contents in record time.  It is incredibly messy but the boys absolutely love helping me making them (although I have had to be very strict with them about “sampling the mix” when it comes to making the alcoholic truffles).  If we forget about how divine they taste, the aroma of these small, rich chocolate balls is pure heaven and has the power to lift even the lowest spirit.

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On a more motherly, domesticated level (Ok only joking, I am no Mary Berry), I do have my own little traditions or secret weapons that have an almost 100% success rate at times of need – and yes they are again sweet/sugar related (crikey, I will have you all believing that my boys diet consists purely of sugar and sweets).  Mum’s special pancakes are always a hit, especially if mummy puts in her secret ingredient. In the unlikely event that this doesn’t hit the spot, I can guarantee that the hot chocolate with lots of whipped cream will hit the spot.

Just reading this back myself is giving me a virtual toothache – I promise I do feed my boys real and healthy food.

So, although I do not have any amazing to share with you all. It has made me sit up and realise that there are special recipes used within our family that have created lasting traditions and memories.

As for the truffle recipes. Well here they are:

Kiddy-Friendly Truffles

Truffles need to be eaten within 5 days – if you have kids like mine, you will be lucky if they last the day.

To make about 10 truffles:

100g (4oz) chocolate (broken into small, even-size pieces)

25g (1oz) butter

50g (2oz) plain cake, crumbled into fine crumbs

4 tablespoons chocolate sugar strands (alternatively and our preferred option crated chocolate)

Small paper cases (optional)

1.       Put the chocolate pieces into a heatproof glass bowl and place over a pan of hot but not simmering water. When it starts to melt, stir gently until completely melted. Do not overheat.

2.       Remove from the heat and gently stir in the butter.

3.       Carefully lift the bowl out of the water.

4.       Sift the icing sugar through a sieve into the chocolate. Add the cake crumbs and stir until everything is mixed well.

5.       Leave the chocolate mixture to cool in the bowl. Then, put the chocolate sugar strands onto a plate.

6.       When the mixture is firm and thick, scoop up some with a teaspoon and put it into the chocolate strands.

7.       Using your fingers, roll the spoonful around until it is covered. Then, put it in a paper case if you wish.

8.       Put the truffles onto a plate. Put them in a fridge for 30 minutes. Keep them in an airtight container in the fridge.

Adult Only Truffles

Truffles need to be eaten within 12 days (again never managed to survive the day, even less if it is social workers eating them).

120g (4oz) chocolate (white, milk or plain) broken into small, even-size pieces (I used deluxe Belgium choc)

4 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature

2 tablespoons double cream

½ teaspoon brandy, rum or liqueur of your choice

Grated chocolate to decorate (I always put the chocolate in the freezer before grating – it makes it so much easier to use)

1.       Put the chocolate pieces into a heatproof glass bowl and place over a pan of hot but not simmering water. When it starts to melt, stir gently until completely melted. Do not overheat.

2.       Remove from the heat and gently stir in the butter, then the cream and liqueur.

3.       Leave to cool, then cover with cling film and refrigerate for 2-2½ hours until set.

4.       Remove the mixture from the refrigerator. Using a teaspoon, scoop out small pieces of the mixture, then use your hands to roll them into balls.

5.       To decorate, roll the balls in grated chocolate. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.

 

NB: I do not claim to own these recipes. They recipes I have found over the years that I have found have the best results for making truffles.

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