select your yule tree carefully

♫♩♩ It’s Christmastime In The City

My Mom “Betty” had many talents in addition to being a fabulous foodie. She loved crabbing at the Texas Coast, sewing her own clothes (and clothes for us), painting, and gardening.

Mom’s black binder cookbook originated in the 1950s and its first contents were not recipes, but actually gardening tips! I decided to expand this cooking blog of her favorite food picks to include some of the gardening articles that she curated over the years. And what better way to kick us off than with some tips for how to care and feed for the freshest Christmas tree on the block?! Read the 1977 San Antonio Express-News article below for all the details!

Christmas With The Kikers

As soon as the Thanksgiving dishes were clean and safely stored away, all thoughts turned to Christmas. Each year we decorated the house with lighted garlands, hung white lights in our signature front yard mesquite tree, and we found ourselves spending more time sitting by the fire than glued to the television. The kitchen was usually rockin’ the house with wonderful smells. There was ribbon candy, a homemade gingerbread house and if we were lucky, divinity. Also dancing in the air was likely some Bing Crosby or voices singing “The Twelve Days Of Christmas” from a gathering of young and old around our player piano.

Kiker Family Christmas 1976

Kiker Family Christmas 1976

No other holiday time accoutrement could possibly top the Kiker Christmas tree. We usually scouted for the perfect tree at Wolfe Nursery on San Pedro or the Optimist Club’s Christmas tree lot in Alamo Heights. Until the year when Mom and her great friend Joyce both returned from JCPenney with our first artificial Christmas tree ever (gasp!), we had fresh green trees that were perfectly formed, full, and fragrant.

Holiday Streaker

My greatest childhood skill was my ability to run faster than the wind when Mom said dinner was ready. My parents greatest skill? Always having the Polaroid at the ready whenever I was streaking in my favorite leprechaun shoes.

This happened A LOT!

Some years we strung popcorn. In my earlier years our tree was outfitted in tiny multi-colored lights. And as the years advanced we migrated to blue spruce trees adorned with what seemed like hundreds of shiny glass-blown ornaments set among all-white lights. I still have Mom’s green felt tree skirt that was turned into a Christmas tree skirt that she wore when she ice skated as a teenager. Her waist must have been no bigger than 20 inches!

Today I’ve migrated away from live green trees to silver tinsel (shown in the video above). I find it cheaper, faster, and shinier than traditional tree trimming. But I do miss the smell of a fresh tree!

The Main Event

We usually went to Christmas Eve midnight mass at St. Pius – something that was torture for a young kid who crept in and out of consciousness trying to stay awake only to count the seconds until morning would arrive and I could score the presents I “worked” and waited for all year to finally collect! If we were lucky Mom would let us open one present before we went to bed – it was never our grandest gift but something to wet the appetite … and more importantly to keep us (me) quiet.

The next morning I was usually the first one up and I was salivating at the thought of ripping open all the presents I had been counting and coveting for weeks. Usually Mom’s Mom “Nanny” would drive over for “high-time” around 9 or 10 AM when things were in full force. Nanny would often bring her coconut ambrosia fruit salad and Mom would make a meal as grand as Thanksgiving. This was a time for the “good china,” as Mom called it.

Life was plentiful and good.

~ Patrick

Betty’s Son
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook

Christmastime Tip ~ Why not explore more of the Betty’s Cook Nook Blog by clicking this link. You’ll find more stories and recipes perfect for the happiest of holidays! And check out our old family photos page where you’ll see me sitting on Santa’s lap on one the most frightful days of my life!

A Pic Of Mom's Twelve Days Of Christmas Glasses

A Pic Of Mom’s Twelve Days Of Christmas Glasses

A scan of my Mom Betty's "Christmas tree tips" article

A scan of my Mom Betty’s “Christmas tree tips” article, San Antonio Express-News, December 1977



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