A Traditional Family Recipe that isn’t Traditional

“Traditions are a lot like heirlooms,” says Noel Piper in her book Treasuring God in our Traditions.  “Both have probably have come to us through our families. Some you love.” Some you can’t imagine life without, some you’re stuck with.

Saffron Rice Dressing for Christmas Dinner is one of those traditions our family can’t do without. It was handed down to my mother by her older sister Belle, who lived in New Orleans.

On Christmas Day at the Rutledge family home, my mother  who was stirring up Christmas scents in the kitchen, would alert us when it was time, and we would snap to and unfold the dining table which we kept in the corner of the family room. Then we’d place thick pads on it for protection and cover it with a white linen tablecloth, china and silver.

The dishes of honor were the great oval platter of smoked turkey and the long glass dish of Belle’s yellow rice stuffing with apples, oranges, pineapple, sausage, water chestnuts, onion and grated lemon rind.

My husband wants me to cook this traditional dish this year even though we’re going out for Christmas Dinner.

I hope you will love it as much as we do! [RuthAnn]

Yellow Rice Stuffing

You will need:

2 packages yellow rice, cooked      1 can water chestnuts (drained)

1/2 lb. sausage, browned                 2-4 sticks chopped celery

1 small can mandarin oranges        1 cup chopped onion

1 small can crushed pineapple       1 Tablespoon poultry seasoning

1 grated lemon rind

Mix and Bake:

Mix all ingredients together and either stuff the turkey or bake in cake pan for 45 minutes with broth added. (You can use vegetable bouillon, if desired, and leave out the sausage so you’ll have  a vegetarian dish.)

Food for Thought:

What can I Give Him?

 Each year our church staff has the tradition of giving the church members  a party. This year they entertained us with a 12 days of Christmas skit, and reams of singing.  A coloratura sang “Home for the Holidays;” a trio sang “Carol of the Bells,” and a make-shift group of chamber singers gave us an amazing rendition of a Bach piece, counterpoint and all.

One of our pastors shared that  his family had a tradition of reading a Christmas story together on Christmas Day. From an easy chair on stage, Pastor John read us a tall illustrated book of The Littlest Angel. It was so touching, I cried.

Many of our Christmas stories and songs are about  giving of ourselves to the Christ-Child.  The littlest angel was frightened that the gift he’d given the baby Jesus ( his very own box of tiny earthly treasures) had made God the Father angry. But God chose the little angel’s present as best of all because he was giving his most prized possession (part of himself) to the baby Jesus.

The young couple in Gift of the Magi, each sell their most prized possession, to buy a special gift for each other—the girl’s long hair, and the man’s ancestral watch. The “Little Drummer Boy” gives the Child his talent for playing the drum; the person in Christina Rossetti’s poem, “What Can I Give Him?” finally decides to give the Baby his heart.

The new classic A Cup of Christmas Tea tells the story of an elderly great aunt who invited her nephew for Christmas Tea. The young man is reluctant to go because his great aunt recently had a stroke, and he doesn’t want to see how far she’s gone downhill. Meanwhile the aunt is humming as she places the antique wooden soldiers just so and bakes melt-in-your mouth cookies. Upon his mother’s urging, the nephew  finally agrees to accept the  invitation.

He knocks on his great-aunt’s door with  trepidation. But when the aunt appears, fragile-looking in her brace, she welcomes him with delight and the nephew steps into the beautiful world of Christmas past. He is deeply blessed by all she is and all she has been. She has given him herself.

This year I began what might become a new tradition: taking a morning off during the Christmas rush to spend alone with God, giving of myself to Him during that rushed season. The Saturday morning was frigid, but I was in the warmth of a private home, and everyone was practicing silence in a private space. After meditating on how “Every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17a), I  began listing all the especially good gifts Christ had given me recently. There were 12 of them! One for each  of the 12 days of Christmas!!!!! I didn’t realize the number was so great.

I was full of praise. We can’t out-give God, that’s for sure. No matter how much we give Him, even if it’s our very selves,  He always gives us more.              [RuthAnn]


Christmas Greetings from Dale and RuthAnn:
May the Christ child who trumpets light into our worlds, lighten your burdens, enlighten your understanding and shed light on your way this Christmas!

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