Words we say and lessons we teach will outlive us. As a mom, I try to follow my mother’s example.
Mom was a wise, gentle soul who passed on what she learned along the way. One of my favorite pieces of marriage advice revolved around the holiday.
She knew from experience that blending families could be tricky. Special occasions can intensify those emotions and create family situations that can test our relationships.
When our family was young, we would spend Christmas Day going from my dad’s family to my mom’s. One year my dad finally made the announcement that we would be staying home. If anyone wanted to spend it with us, they were welcome to come over.
It worked out well. My grandparents even showed up before we were awake some years. (They were as excited as all of us kids.)
When Russ and I married, I had lists in my mind of what holidays would look like: the right food, decorations, movies and activities that bring the warmth of the past into the present. Mom encouraged us to find our own traditions.
Only six weeks after our wedding we hosted our first Thanksgiving dinner. Russ invited his three bachelor brothers to join us. I don’t remember how long it took, but I do remember the counter in our little apartment overflowing with every possible holiday menu item.
The only exception was pumpkin pie. Russ wasn’t a fan (still isn’t), so I decided to make a twist on his favorite dessert.
The man loves a good cheesecake. I found a great recipe for boysenberry cheesecake. After one bite it was declared our tradition, not only for Thanksgiving but for Christmas, Easter and a few birthdays as well.
18 graham crackers crumbs (1½ cups)
1/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons melted butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients and pat firmly into the bottom and 1⁄3 up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake 20 minutes. Cool 15 minutes.
1½ pounds cream cheese, softened
½ teaspoon grated lemon peel
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whipping cream
1 16-ounce jar or 1 1/3 cups Knott’s Boysenberry Preserves (We have tried other brands and in our opinion, nothing works as well as Knott’s.)
Beat cream cheese until creamy; mix in lemon peel and vanilla. In separate bowl combine sugar, flour and salt. Add gradually to cream cheese mix. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition just until blended. Stir in whipping cream.
Pour all but ½ cup cheese filling into already baked crust. Mix 2 tablespoons preserves with remaining filling and slowly drizzle back and forth across cheesecake. Using a blunt knife, gently weave through batter of cheesecake to make a ribbon pattern.
Bake at 350 degrees for 65 to 70 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 30 minutes. Loosen sides with spatula. Cool 2 to 3 hours longer.
Stir remaining preserves and spread evenly over cheesecake. Refrigerate overnight.