I begrudgingly saw the new Disney animated feature “Frozen” with my sister, mom and two of my nephews. One of our new traditions on Christmas Eve is going to the movies before all the celebrating begins. My sister has organized her dinner to the point that we can take a quick breather and enjoy the theater at one of the times it is least occupied.
This Disney fable is based loosely on “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen. It is a different kind of love story. It is about the love between two sisters. In the end Anna’s act of sacrificial love spares her sister Elsa’s life. They find that the power of love is stronger than the power of fear that causes Elsa’s icy curse on the land.
1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
I sobbed big gut wrenching tears as the love between the sisters was shown on the screen. I sat beside my sister who has fought for me my whole life. From the day I was born she has been my protector and my hero. Sometimes I have been her hero. Through it all one thing has never changed-our love for each other.
We did not have a Disney childhood but Christmas was always magical. My sister shows her love in the way that she painstakingly recreates the best part of those magical Christmases.
She bakes the treats we loved as children. There are Laura’s(Grama Mary’s best friend) tea cakes. They are a labor of love. Delicate orange chiffon cake cut into bite sized pieces dipped in orange icing and rolled in crushed pecans. Greek butter cookies from Grama’s other friend Alice. They are puffs of powdered sugar covered, buttery almond goodness. From Grandma Dora-Italian Nougat candies that my sister must have to hunt all over town for. There is always Sees candy-a California favorite and a staple in every Holiday gathering.
There are more recent traditions that we have created as adults. My sister lives in the San Francisco Bay Area-a mecca for fabulous food. She discovered the Copenhagen Bakery in San Mateo and buys their petite fours -little almond cakes with a dollop of flavored mousse and a coating of hardened icing in lemon, strawberry, vanilla and chocolate. Our favorite from the Copenhagen Bakery are the snowballs. They remind us of the ice cream balls rolled in coconut that Grama Mary used to buy us when we were kids. Copenhagen’s snowballs are vanilla chiffon cake with a chocolate mousse filling covered with fluffy vanilla buttercream frosting and lots of coconut.
The entrees are a bit of the old with the new. Christmas Eve dinner is cracked Dungeness Crab- a San Francisco favorite fresh off the Bay. It harbors memories from childhood visits to the City and bringing home crab and sourdough bread for dinner in Sacramento. This is served with lasagna full of memories of Grandma Dora’s pasta.
On Christmas Day my sister has brought back two special summertime treats from our youth and incorporated them into our newest Christmas dinner. The Old California State Fairgrounds were in the South Sacramento Area before Cal Expo was built. Our favorite at the old State Fair were the hot turkey sandwiches. My sister recreates them for us for Christmas dinner. They are soft French rolls dipped in thick gravy made from a mix and topped with gravy soaked turkey slices. She serves Grama Mary’s famous potato salad with it to complete the memory.
So thanks to my sister, we pay tribute to the past and make new memories for the present as we share the Christmas Holiday. Though some of the faces are gone that shared those memories with us, we cherish them in our hearts. One thing has remained- the love that they taught us, we carry on to our children. That is the best tradition of all.