Little Christmas, Cardone and New Beginnings

My sister-in-law keeps my momma's tradition of baking. Left two rows cuccidati, middle row meatball cookies and biscotti in the round container.

When I was a young girl my mom kept our Christmas tree up until January 6th and called it little Christmas. She told my brothers and me that it was an Italian tradition, however, many cultures around the world celebrate variations of little Christmas.

My mom truly loved the holiday season. She was an excellent cook and baker and every year we were treated to an amazing spread of homemade Italian sausage (still made by my cousin in San Jose, CA). She would make homemade pizza dough and sauce with just the right pinch of sausage here and there but not too much!

There would be cardone (car-do-ney), a larger and tougher version of celery. She would laboriously clean the stalks by peeling away the tougher strands, which stained her hands gray. She would bread and fry the cardone into a tender delicacy. And the squid, not melt in your mouth calamari, no, we’re talking whole body squid that she roasted in some of her homemade sauce.

She would mix powdered sugar with a bit of milk

She made a plethora of cookies as well. There were the cuccidati, biscotti and meatball cookies (an Italian spice cookie shaped like a meatball). She would mix powdered sugar with a bit of milk in separate little bowls and add a different food coloring to each bowl to frost the cookies and then add sprinkles. She actually hid the cookies every year because she would give out plates to family and friends and if not hidden my dad and brothers would eat them all. But we knew all her hiding places.

Looking back I think it filled her love tank

Looking back I think it filled her love tank to have us find them and her gentle scolding not to eat them all. Most of all my mom loved having family and friends close for the holidays. Even though there was never a shortage of family and friends coming and going at our house and my sweet momma admonishing everyone to, “mangia!” To take down the tree and put all the decorations away meant the end of a very special and delightful time.

My husband is somewhat like my mom. While little Christmas is too long for him he does like Christmas to stay up until January 1st. If it were up to me I would pack everything bit of Christmas away on December 26th! Not because I have Grinch like qualities but because the thought and anticipation of the new year excites me! The new year holds renewed hope and faith. The new year represents a new beginning. It is no surprise or coincidence that on January 1st of any given year Genesis 1:1 tells us

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

The Hebrew word for ‘in the beginning’ is reshith (ray-sheeth’) and can also mean first fruits. How wonderfully kind of God to give us His first fruits before teaching us how to give our first fruits back to Him and to others.

My prayer for each of you is that 2019 will be a year filled with giving your first fruits back to God in every area of your life but mostly in your relationship with Him. I pray that you will experience Him wooing you to His word with all five senses and your anticipation of meeting Him there to be filled with the beauty, the goodness and the truth of Him. And like my sweet momma’s love for the holiday season, I pray that your time with God will be special and delightful and something you won’t ever want to put away.




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