Even though Christmas might be different this year, it will still be a memorable one.

Not all holidays or life events are remembered because they were picture perfect. In fact, how many were? By my account, not many.

All my life, I’ve loved chocolate. But did we ever have chocolate at Christmas? We did not.

It wasn’t an everyday food, either. So you’d think if you’re celebrating, you’d have chocolate. Not in our family. Christmas sweets consisted of date drop cookies and the same pies you had on Thanksgiving — pecan and pumpkin. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but those sweets dull in the light of the Christmas tree in the living room and the electric Santa and reindeer on the lawn.

And not that the sweets, or any of the other holiday food, were bad. We had quality food, mostly prepared by my grandma. We all know Grandma food is the best, no matter what it is.

My mom also was a good cook, but not as good as Grandma, who was used to going the extra mile because that’s how she grew up cooking on a farm in Virginia. My mom, who worked as a secretary during most of my childhood, was looking for an easier way to put food on the table, and I certainly don’t blame her. Sometimes I just have cereal for dinner.

Eventually, Mom stumbled onto a recipe she lost her mind over and made, not just at Christmas, but whenever the mood struck her. Prune cake.

You heard right. Prune. Cake.

For Christmas.

I don’t even dislike prunes, but why in a cake? It doesn’t sound right and I’m sure there were better things to add to batter than prunes.

Mom bragged it was so moist and delicious. I remember it being moist.

While we added prune cake to the lineup of Christmas desserts, I heard that some people make peanut butter cookies with chocolate kisses in the center. I heard that black walnut fudge was delicious, and peanut butter fudge was even better. I didn’t know what a sugar plum was or what went into figgy pudding, but I was willing to give them a try in lieu of prune cake. I even liked gingerbread men and a yule log — when I visited people who made such things. I decided to cope with mediocre holiday desserts. I could sure use a bourbon ball, but, alas, there was no such thing at my house.

More than being disappointed by the desserts, I was always excited about having the whole family gathered for a meal. As much as we all like food, the most important thing is having everyone together. To me, it created a different kind of energy and excitement to all be together, even if my family was much smaller than most; and even if we didn’t have chocolate, which taught me a lesson: At least we didn’t have fruitcake.

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lward@dailyindependent.com

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