A Family Heirloomby Lee McKenzie
How is it even possible that a gift I received as a child has already become a family heirloom? After all, I’m not that old! But I think some things have all the hallmarks of an heirloom, even when they’re brand new, and the rocking horse I received for Christmas in the mid 1950s is one of those things.
It was going to be a lean holiday that year. My father had been laid off from his job so to make enough money to buy my Christmas present—a rocking horse—he chopped firewood for a neighbor.
Yes, that's me in the photo!
I still love this horse. His name is Old Paint, after Tonto’s horse, Paint, from The Lone Ranger. Anyone remember that show? The Lone Ranger himself was very heroic, but I adored Tonto. I’m not sure why I added Old to my horse’s name. Maybe Tonto sometimes called his horse old Paint?
I had plenty of adventures on Old Paint as we galloped through my imagination. As you can see, I’m not the only child who had fun with him. This photograph of him being ridden by my daughter was taken about thirty years later.
I can still make out the name of the manufacturer and model on the back of the rocker. It’s called a Foxhunter, made by Tri-Ang, a British toy company. The body and rocker are painted metal, the reins and stirrup straps are leather, and the mane and saddle are rubber and still in great shape, although the tail is now gone.
While Old Paint waits for another generation of riders, he enjoys a place of honor in our holiday decor.
Doesn’t he make you think of an old-fashioned Christmas?
Guests of all ages fall in love with him!
Speaking of guests, I like to have lots of snacks on hand when people drop by, and I like things to be simple so I’m not tied to the kitchen and missing out on all the fun. Here are a couple of recipes easy-to-make tasty holiday treats that can be made a day or two before a party and set out just before guests arrive.
Spicy Almonds and PecansPreheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until the nuts are coated with seasonings. Spread the mixture in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the baking sheet, let the nuts cool, and store in a tightly sealed jar for up to a week.
1 cups whole almonds
1 cup pecans
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
Curried CashewsPreheat the oven to 300 degrees. Toss all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until the nuts are coated with seasonings. Spread the mixture in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the baking sheet, let the nuts cool, and store in a tightly sealed jar for up to a week.
3 cups roasted cashews, unsalted
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons coarse salt
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
The preparation instructions are pretty much the same, but please note the different roasting temperatures and times.
Thank you for joining me at this busy time of year.
Wishing you a happy holiday,
~ ~ ~
Lee McKenzie writes for Harlequin American Romance. WITH THIS RING (December ‘07), her Christmas-in-July story, is still available as an ebook from eHarlequin.com and Amazon.com (Kindle edition). For more holiday fun and good cheer, please visit Lee at The Writer Side of Life.