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True Colors

I thought a holiday blog about holiday colors – Christmas’s red and green – or Hanukkah’s blue and white – was perfect. I would tie it into food. Then I started to analyze my food options. Blue food? I don’t think so. White frosting, maybe…or cooked egg whites? Even red and green all of a sudden seemed challenging. Tomatoes are out of season. A true Christmas green might be in a salad – but what else?

Got it! True Christmas colors!

It didn’t take long until I was going around singing “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” Andy, upon hearing Kermit’s song – over …and over…and over – started thinking about other colors…anything but green. Yup – see today’s Andy’s Corner. He’s doggedly determined to write about brown.

After I got Kermit’s song out of my mind, I fixated on Cyndi Lauper and her 1986 “True Colors” (the video is probably not rated for small children 🙂 – but it’s kind of cool. )

Show me a smile then
Don’t be unhappy
Can’t remember when
I last saw you laughing
This world makes you crazy
And you’ve taken all you can bear

Sounds to me like Cyndi was foreseeing 2020’s pandemic with those lyrics!

“True colors” led me to The Secret Language of Color, a book published in 2013 by and written by Joann and Arielle Eckstut. Why were red and green the colors of Christmas? Maybe you all already knew this, but I didn’t realize that holly – and ivy too – had a lot of impact on that. Though Christians adopted the colors and assigned meaning to holly’s bright evergreen leaves and intense red berries, holly’s association with winter goes back to the ancient Celts. It was believed that holly in the home in the middle of the cold, dreary winter would bring good fortune and a prosperous new year.

But here’s my favorite holly and ivy story. It’s one that will now be a part of our Christmas Eve – forever. 🙂

Holly has traditionally been associated with males and ivy with females (I might add that ivy’s “clingy” and “soft” nature and the “support” provided for ivy by the “rigid” holly contributed to that – but that’s all too sexist to think about :). 

There is a tradition in some areas of England that says whichever plant (holly or ivy) enters the home first on Christmas Eve will dictate whether females or males will rule the roost in the year to come. Trust me, I’m aiming to get in first with my ivy (which BTW I happen to dislike – intensely – and which covers way too much of our streetside perennial bed). Andy will have to put up a pretty serious fight to beat me into the house (plus, we don’t have any holly in our yard, so he’ll be at a real disadvantage!).

Ah, yes. Back to Christmas colors.

My failed attempt a making Christmas-y green cupcakes (which had matcha in them) with Christmas-y red frosting (which had strawberry sauce)

Though my green cupcakes with red frosting were a miserable failure Christmas-color-wise, I had high hopes for my red and green peppers – before cooking, that is. I chose a recipe from The Breath of the Wok by Grace Young, our daughter’s friend in NYC. It’s easy, delicious – but isn’t great at keeping its Christmas colors post-stir-frying.

After I gave up on a true Christmas green in anything cooked, I settled on our new all-time favorite sauce – strawberry. Even after cooking and freezing, it stays a Christmas-y red. It’s perfect on waffles or French toast or pancakes or ice cream. And it’s wonderful to defrost in the midst of a dreary, cold winter – and enjoy the fruit of a bright and cheery warm summer. Or maybe make it, freeze it, and give it as holiday gifts – a little lagniappe – for your friends and neighbors. As Kermit and his friends sang in 1987, “We need a little Christmas now.”

Homemade Strawberry Sauce
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