Christmas makes me think of meatloaf. Okay, so my family is weird. But my Aunt Edna could make the best meatloaf ever and she made at least 10 lbs worth every Christmas.
You see, my maternal grandmother outlived 4 husbands–so my mom has 6 biological brothers and sisters and more “halves and steps” than I can count. When I was young and holiday time rolled around there were a lot of people who gathered to celebrate. There was never a shortage good tidings or food or other kids to play with. There was usually a little family drama thrown in to boot. It was fun and loud and boisterous and we loved it. We got to see cousins we had not seen since the prior Christmas and we ate and played and laughed until our tummies hurt.
Along with the meatloaf, we had traditional Christmas food like turkey and dressing (that’s what you folks up north call stuffing; only we don’t stuff our birds). Mammaw always cooked a huge skillet of corn, either Mom or Aunt Jessie made the dressing, and everyone chipped in with desserts and vegetables. My sister and I love raw dressing. Don’t even start on me about not eating raw eggs because I eat a few bites of raw dressing every Thanksgiving and Christmas to this very day. In fact we love it so much that no matter who made the dressing, they always kept us some in the refrigerator. We thought we had them trained; looking back, I think it was just love.
Mom also made her famous “nanner puddin’ ‘out no nanners” which translated in English means “banana pudding without any bananas”. My sister, Karen, gave it the “family name” years ago and it stuck.
Sadly, my Aunt Edna passed away in 1977 at the young age of 47. I was in college at the time and I can still remember the anguish I felt when Mom called to tell me. She was the one Aunt that always lived close to us and was really my second Mom. I was her favorite until my snotty nosed little cousin, Genny Ann, came along, but that’s another story. (I love you Gen!). She died in September and I clearly remember the first Christmas without her. We gathered at Aunt Jessie’s that year. When I walked in the kitchen Aunt Jessie hugged me and called me over to the corner to show me something. With tears in her eyes, she slowly lifted the cover of a huge pan. It was meatloaf…Aunt Edna’s recipe.
Christmas is quiet now. Our family is not so large and my mom only has one brother left. We see him and his family often but not usually at Christmas. Our holiday celebrations are small and generally don’t involve a lot of cooking. But if you ask me my favorite Christmas food — I still pick meatloaf.