There has long been a tradition in my family that on Christmas, Grandpa Chuck gives everyone a big chunk of fudge.
Seems like a fun family holiday tradition, right?
Well, it has also been tradition (since I can remember) that no one eats the fudge. It’s usually hard as rock. Maybe back before I can remember, it was delicious fudge. But as Grandpa got older and got sick, it became a little suspect. But it was tradition, nonetheless.
Grandpa Chuck passed away this April, and although I didn’t get up to say anything at his memorial, I tried my best to block out the sick Grandpa of the last ten years or so. I tried to remember the Grandpa of my childhood, and I realized that I owe some of my strange taste in music to him, but I also owe him my love of Christmas.
Grandpa Chuck loved Christmas. He carried on the tradition of “Saint Nicholas Day” on December 6th every year. I remember one year, the doorbell rang on the evening of December 6th, and when we went to the door there was a little package there with a note from St Nick himself!!
Another Christmas tradition that Grandpa Chuck left us with is my family’s labeling of presents. Instead of presents being from Mom or Dad or Grandpa or even just Santa, our gift tags held a tiny clue about what was inside the wrapping. For example, “Time Keeping Santa” probably gave you a watch and “Looking Fine Santa” might have given you a cute new sweater.
Some of my favorites from this year:
But anyway, this year I decided that in addition to my other favorite Christmas candies, I was going to carry on the fudge tradition. Except I was going to make the fudge edible…
I found out that fudge is a lot more difficult than I gave Grandpa credit for.
Oh, it set up. And I’m pretty sure this is the recipe Grandpa used year after year, because that fudge was hard as a rock.
I also considered sending it back to the east coast just for nostalgia’s sake. It was pretty funny to attempt to cut the stuff. And it tasted just like chocolate chips, which isn’t terrible. But I was envisioning sending home fudge that rivaled Ocean City Boardwalk fudge from my youth.
I attempted one last time before I had to send the box off in the mail. I used Alton Brown’s recipe. I calibrated candy thermometers.
It set up. It was delicious.
A little creamier than I’d hoped for, but I sent it off to the east coast to my family who I know would find the sentiment in even almost perfect fudge.
I was also very proud of my candy packaging…
If we couldn’t be on the east coast to personally delivery these packages, I was sure they would make everyone smile anyway!
So candy was all off in the mail. And then a few days later, I realized that I didn’t save any fudge for myself. So I attempted to duplicate the near-impossible. I tried one more time.
And I got it even more right. It was fudge I think even Candy Kitchen would be proud of.
So here’s to Grandpa Chuck. Here’s to remembering the magic and the wonder that he added to the holidays when we were young. Here’s to the man I probably thought was Santa Clause when I was a kid. Here’s to his toy trains and his goodie bags of candy and a five dollar bill. Here’s to the fruit cocktail appetizer (with the marshmallows) and the fake tree they decorated with silver tinsel every year.
And here’s to continuing fudge traditions – but in a more edible way. Hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas!