Growing up, Thanksgiving to Christmas, our house has always been filled with aromas of baking. Spices, chocolate, sweetness. The counters overflow with baked goods cooling, piled on plates, and carefully layered in airtight containers. The freezer becomes a booby-trapped appliance with bags and containers of goodies shoved in every available space.
The wonderful smells mingle with pumpkin pie, turkey, ham and at Christmas the tang of pine and cinnamon. I’ve heard it said smells can trigger memories. Any time I smell the nostril tingling scent of cinnamon I’m taken back to the two story farm house my parents, siblings, and grandparents lived in when I was young.
My grandmother’s claim to fame at Christmas was her cinnamon candy.
Here is the recipe: Old-fashion Cinnamon Candy
1 pint Karo syrup
2 cups sugar
1 bottle cinnamon oil
6 drops red food coloring
powdered sugar, desired amount for coating
- In a sauce pan, bring syrup and sugar to the hard- crack stage—about 300 to 310 degrees.
- Add cinnamon oil and food coloring.
- Stir quickly and pour into a well greased cookie sheet.
- Let candy harden.
- Crack into pieces and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
In my Christmas Story, Christmas Redemption, the hero has been in prison for ten years for something he participated in as a young man. When he returns home to confront his father, he finds his mother in her kitchen baking. The smells take him back to his childhood.
Blurb for Christmas Redemption a story in the Silver Belles and Stetsons Christmas Anthology.
Van Donovan returns to Pleasant Valley, Oregon where twelve years earlier as a boy of fifteen he left in handcuffs after standing guard for a bank robbery. He's learned a trade and excelled at it and is ready to prove to his father and the town he can amount to something.
Upon his return he learns the fate of the daughter of an innocent man who died in the robbery crossfire. To make amends he takes her out of the saloon and gives her a job, not realizing she'd been squatting in the very building he'd purchased for his business.
Can two battered hearts find solace or will the past continue to haunt their lives?
The leafless cottonwood trees appeared stark and ominous hovering around the farm house. The two-story structure held pleasant memories. His mother’s cooking and laughter. Would she welcome him back or follow her husband’s lead? His stomach knotted, and he once again wished Tessa were by his side.
A multi-colored mutt ran out of the barn barking. Half-way to the wagon, he stopped and looked back toward the barn. A girl of about eight strolled out of the building wrapped in a heavy coat, scarf, and mittens.
“Button. Stop barking,” she said when he stopped the wagon in front of the house. His mother’s eyes stared at him from the child’s face. This was his sister Grace.
“Is your ma or pa home?” he asked uncertain what to do. He wanted to pick her up and hug her, but reasoned she wouldn’t care for a stranger grabbing her.
“Ma’s in the kitchen. Christmas is coming.” She put a hand on the dog’s head.
“It sure is. How about you take me to the house then rustle your ma out of the kitchen so I can talk with her?” He started walking to the familiar front door.
Grace grabbed his hand. “We can’t go in that door. Ma doesn’t like snow on her wool rug.” She tugged him to the back of the house.
Van smiled and allowed his sister to haul him around to the back of the house. The garden patch looked larger. And the cellar which he’d help dig was grown over sprouting pale weeds through the six inches of snow.
Grace pulled the screen door open, then shoved the door into the kitchen. Familiar aromas wafted around Van’s head. He sniffed and savored each spicy nuance.
His ma turned. “Grace, shut the door, I have bread ris—”
Ma was the same other than gray wisps in her dark brown hair. She blinked, and her hands clasped in front of her chest.
“Van?” She took a step toward him. He smiled and nodded, and she lunged into his arms, crying.
He hugged her tight as tears burned his eye sockets. His heart, that had been torn in two when he never heard from her, slowly melded back together. “I’ve missed you,” he said, holding on, wishing he had all those years back.
She drew out of his arms and studied him. “My, you turned into one handsome man.” She wiped at the tears on her face with her apron. Then motioned to Grace. “Come say hello to your big brother.” His mother’s smile warmed him like a toasty fire on a cold day.
“My brother? I thought pa said—” Grace stared up at him quizzically.
This is one of the 9 heartwarming Christmas stories you'll find in the Silver Belles and Stetsons Christmas Anthology.
Paty Jager writes murder mysteries and steamy romance starring cowboys and Indians.blog / website / Facebook / Paty's Posse / Goodreads / Twitter / Pinterest