Christmas as a child was so wonderful. It was simple and uncomplicated.

The Christmas tree was a cedar tree that grew in the timber. It had such a refreshing odor that filled the house with the smell. In my eyes it was always “grand.” The colored glass ornaments were from the time of my great-grandparents. To me they were beautiful. There were no strings of lights, no electricity.

Now to the foods! All the food was so good, but to me as a child the cakes, cookies, pies and candies were “the most.” Of course, it was all homemade.

My grandmother always made two mashed potato cakes, one with chocolate frosting and one with caramel. The chocolate frosting was my favorite. You probably have not heard of mashed potato cake. Yes, it did have mashed potatoes in it. It is a dark-colored, moist cake and also has raisins and black walnuts. My mother made it, and I also made it for my family — yes, with chocolate frosting.

Mother made candy. She made different kinds. There were chocolate-covered cherries (better than the ones you buy), fudge, Boston cream fudge, divinity, Cherry Mash, chocolates, coconut covered with chocolate, caramels, popcorn balls and caramel corn.

Mother made mincemeat pies, delicious warm from the oven. We had our own meat supply and had apple trees, so we had most of the ingredients. The pies were two-crust (homemade crust) and so good! Lots of work!

In later years, mother found a recipe for mincemeat using ground beef. It was excellent and my husband loved it, so I also made it for years.

Christmas dinner at my grandparents’ house was a tradition for many years. There were 12 relatives there. My mother made her homemade dinner rolls at home and baked them at their house.

I never realized all the work involved until it came my years to do it all. I love doing it even though I worked full time.

Betty Lou Vogel

St. Joseph