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Residents, staff share their flavors of Christmas

Whether it’s a favorite food, a special song or a treasured tradition, Christmas gives us all the opportunity to reflect on those memories that made the holiday so magical. Some of our residents and staff shared some of their personal memories with us – along with some tasty recipes that can help make the day filled with even more goodness.

Rita Elliott, RN, Assisted Living Supervisor

Rita said her favorite memory of Christmas is that of going to Midnight Mass with her parents. She also shared her favorite recipe for “Goodie Cookies,” which are a bar-type cookie her mother made every year. Now Rita makes them every year.

Goodie Bars (Also known as Coconut Cherry Bars)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup chopped nuts
  • ½ cup flaked coconut
  • ½ cup chopped Maraschino cherries, drained
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-9 inch square baking pan.

In medium bowl mix 1 cup flour, butter and powdered sugar with a spoon until the flour is moistened. Press the mixture into the baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl beat the eggs, then stir in remaining ingredients. Spread over the baked layer.

Bake for another 25-30 minutes or until it is golden brown color. Cool completely (about 30 minutes). If you want bars—cut into six rows by five rows.

Tresa Allen, Marketing and Social Services Director

Tresa has two favorite memories of Christmas. The first is doing the Christmas plays at church. “We did these every year. Our own resident Helen Austin was one of my Sunday school teachers, and so these memories are very dear to my heart,” Tresa said.

The second involves family. “Grandma Harris’ house at Christmas was the most awesome place. She had 18 grandchildren and bought several presents for them all, so the place was covered with gifts and decorations,” Tresa said. “I can still smell the smell and see her making chocolate pudding on the stove for chocolate pie. She made me a chocolate and cherry pie every year because they are my favorites. On either Christmas Eve or Christmas, all the cousins and aunts and uncles would converge on Grandma’s house, and we would spend the day together. I loved seeing my relatives. It was something I looked forward to all year long!”

Cecilia Cooley, resident

“We always had a good Christmas,” Cecilia said. “I don’t really have a favorite. My Mom always made gobs of food that were my favorite. I wish I still had some.”

Alberta Sanderson, resident

Alberta’s favorite memory is all the songs. She especially likes Silent Night and Joy to the World, but she says she likes a number of others, too. She remembers her family used to sing them all.

Raymond Pfaff, RN, Health Services Director

Raymond shares that one year he tried to ride his brand-new sled down his grandparents’ stairs. “I survived,” he said

He also remembers the tin foil trees with the circulating lights and being the first one up Christmas morning.

Teresa Taullie-Scott, Administrative Assistant

Teresa laughed while sharing that her favorite memory is her grandmother making something like a sheet-cake Reese’s bar. She says all the men would fight over them so her grandmother would have to hide them in the grill outside until it was time for them to be eaten.

Bonnie Russell, Business Office Manager

Bonnie’s favorite memory is that every Christmas her dad would take the seven kids to see the live nativity scene while mom stayed home “to bake cookies.” Despite the cold they walked to the nativity scene.

“Of course, Santa came while we were gone and Mom was oblivious,” she said.

But it was a big to-do when they returned home. Her dad would see Santa and reindeer on the roof, as well as the tracks on the roof from the reindeer. The plate of cookies mom had set out was always empty with crumbs on it – and the Christmas lights would always be on when they returned, too! Bonnie carried this tradition on with her children, by walking instead of riding to church.

Bonnie has a favorite Christmas microwave peanut brittle recipe that she says is “Absolutely amazing and so easy.”

Microwave Peanut Brittle

  • 1 c. sugar
  • ½ c. light corn syrup
  • 1 c. raw peanuts
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Line baking sheet with parchment paper, spray with baking spray. If you do not have parchment paper you can use greased aluminum foil, or a buttered baking sheet.
  2. In a large microwavable bowl stir together sugar, corn syrup, peanuts and salt.
  3. Microwave 4 minutes. Stir.
  4. Microwave 3 minutes. Stir
  5. Add butter.
  6. Microwave 1-2 minutes (peanut brittle should be caramel in color).
  7. Remove from microwave and add baking soda and vanilla. Stir
  8. Quickly pour on prepared baking sheet. Spread into a thin layer.
  9. Cool. Break into pieces.
  10. Store in an airtight container.

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