Merry Christmas, all!! Yesterday, I watched A Christmas Carol (well, okay, I watched the Muppet’s version--my oldest daughter is visiting, and she still loves all the Christmas specials she grew up with). It got me thinking about Christmases when I grew up.
My great grandfather died about three years before I was born. My great grandma, on the other hand, lived until I was 32. She never remarried. She
lived alone in the house where they had raised their children until her health required round the clock care, which happened somewhere around her 92nd birthday. She was 94 when she died, and had lived a long life surrounded by 5 children, 11 grandchildren, 18 great grandchildren and 3 great great grandchildren. By the time she died, she had outlived my grandma, who had taken responsibility for looking after her from the time my great grandfather died until Alzheimer’s took my grandma from us.
 
That means I spent a lot of time with my great grandma. Wherever grandma was, my great grandma was close by. I spent the night at my great grandma’s house, sat on her porch and drank Kool Aid, and ran up and down a long dirt driveway while I played with my cousins. I climbed trees in her yard and picked huckleberries from a bush out front. I played in her closet, where clothes and pictures older than my dad sat buried in old boxes.
 
I adored my great grandma. Long after she was gone, when I married my amazing husband, it really hit home that my great grandma had outlived her husband by 35 years. Being born in 1908, she came from a time when women--when people--had to be strong and self sufficient to survive. I would be devastated if my husband died. I’m sure she was, too. But she soldiered on.
 
Every Christmas, we all gathered at her house. There were a lot of us. Everyone brought food, but she supplied dessert. She made the most amazing chocolate pound cake you ever put in your mouth. I never have been able to replicate it, and I’ve tried many times. This is my closest effort. My stepson loves it, and he doesn’t even like sweets. But it’s not as good as hers. I guess everyone should leave a little mystery behind when they go.
She lived alone in the house where they had raised their children until her health required round the clock care, which happened somewhere around her 92nd birthday. She was 94 when she died, and had lived a long life surrounded by 5 children, 11 grandchildren, 18 great grandchildren and 3 great great grandchildren. By the time she died, she had outlived my grandma, who had taken responsibility for looking after her from the time my great grandfather died until Alzheimer’s took my grandma from us.
 
That means I spent a lot of time with my great grandma. Wherever grandma was, my great grandma was close by. I spent the night at my great grandma’s house, sat on her porch and drank Kool Aid, and ran up and down a long dirt driveway while I played with my cousins. I climbed trees in her yard and picked huckleberries from a bush out front. I played in her closet, where clothes and pictures older than my dad sat buried in old boxes.
 
I adored my great grandma. Long after she was gone, when I married my amazing husband, it really hit home that my great grandma had outlived her husband by 35 years. Being born in 1908, she came from a time when women--when people--had to be strong and self sufficient to survive. I would be devastated if my husband died. I’m sure she was, too. But she soldiered on.
 
Every Christmas, we all gathered at her house. There were a lot of us. Everyone brought food, but she supplied dessert. She made the most amazing chocolate pound cake you ever put in your mouth. I never have been able to replicate it, and I’ve tried many times. This is my closest effort. My stepson loves it, and he doesn’t even like sweets. But it’s not as good as hers. I guess everyone should leave a little mystery behind when they go.
Chocolate Pound Cake

Chocolate Pound Cake

2 sticks butter, softened

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cocoa

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

3 cups sugar

5 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a tube pan with butter. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa together. Set aside. With an electric mixer, cream the 1 cup butter, the shortening and the sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture and the milk alternately, beating as you add them, beginning and ending with the flour. Add the vanilla. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the cake; it should come out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 30 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.