My "kids" are now 32, 29, and 26. When they were 10, 7 and 4 I started making wassail on Christmas Eve to have with cookies and Christmas Day to have with ... whatever or all by itself in a steaming mug. There is something completely wonderful about the smell of spiced cider in the house that warms the body and soul. As they have gotten older and are only here on the day we open gifts together (not always Christmas Day), the tradition has continued. They walk in the front door, drop their coats, say hello and head to the kitchen and scoop out a big mug of hot wassail. Two years ago was a crazy busy holiday season complicated by some health issues and travel. Nevertheless, I managed to get all of my traditional baking done, cards made and sent, gifts bought and wrapped, decorating complete, church Christmas programs rehearsed and completed ... I was feeling good about it all. Christmas Day arrived as did my children. They came in the front door one by one full of good Christmas cheer and a hug and quickly ran upstairs to get their family time started with a cup of Christmas Wassail.
WHERE'S THE WASSAIL????????????????????????
The first child uttered those words and it was followed by WHAT? WHERE IS IT? MOM? WHERE IS THE WASSAIL? WHY DIDN'T YOU MAKE IT? YOU DIDN'T FORGET IT DID YOU?
I could not believe that I completely forgot the wassail, nor could I believe that something as simple as spiced apple cider could create such a stir. They were greatly disappointed, but eventually we laughed about it and moved on with our day. I learned something important that day though about small things having great impact and the power of tradition. I promise you that I will never again forget to make the wassail or be too busy to make the wassail - I will ALWAYS figure out a way to do it because I now understand that it is more than something hot to drink. The steaming mug of spiced delight has meaning beyond a beverage; it represents memories of childhood, times together, part of what brings and keeps families together.
I trust that you all have family traditions that are important to your family and will be important to their families. I hope you recognize the power of those traditions and that you treasure them. In the spirit of giving, I want to share my wassail recipe this week ... it is the best wassail on earth ... just ask my kids! If you have a tradition that you'd like to share this week, we'd love to have you post it here and spread the joy.
2 quarts apple cider (not apple juice)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1/3 cup frozen orange juice, thawed
1 46 oz. can of pineapple juice
3 whole cloves
3 whole allspice
6 cinnamon sticks
Combine in a crock pot and heat through or keep in a pot on the stove.