Good Morning Gentle Readers,
Yesterday dawned chilly and dank. There were leftover rain spatters and a glacial wall of fog across the valley. Beans chased his ball relentlessly, Blackie snuffed aimlessly, and I snagged a few softball-size Navel oranges for later.
The oranges sitting on the straw bale got me to thinking about my mother and being a kid on Christmas morning. Unlike Christmas stockings here at the Casa, which are an event, it seemed like Christmas stockings at our house growing up were almost an afterthought. There were generally a few pieces of hard candy, some foil-wrapped chocolates, a handful of unshelled walnuts and filberts, the occasional apple, and, way down deep in the bottom of the toe of the stocking would be an orange. Always an orange. We knew it would be there.
TWC grew up in Orange County. We ate hundreds of oranges every year. Oranges were a staple in my brown bag lunch. The predictable orange, deep down in the bottom of the stocking made no sense to me at all.
Ma never said so until decades later. And then only because I asked her. The oranges were a symbol and a memory of her own childhood, growing up poor in the harsh winters of St Paul. There's a lot of modern day rah-rah about eating local, but what eating local really means is that in cold country there isn't any fresh fruit or vegetables for close to half the year.
Navel oranges, which ripen in early December, were shipped from Riverside California by the trainload to frigid climes like St Paul, arriving just in time for Christmas. The bright, cheery, delectably sweet fruit was a rare and treasured delicacy, and Santa made sure there was one in mom's stocking on Christmas morning.
It wouldn't have mattered if Ma had explained all that to us, we kids could not have appreciated it. Not even in the abstract. After all, the promised land of post war Southern California was a galaxy apart from depression-era St Paul.
It's funny (odd, not ha-ha) how we take certain things from our experiences and leave others behind to create new traditions. My mother's tradition was the Christmas orange, which she brought to California with her.