Unexpected Christmas decoration and traditions

Do you have funny Christmas traditions? I didn’t realize that oranges are one of mine.

I usually do quite a bit of decorating, but this year, for whatever reason, I’ve done very little. We do have a tree up, but virtually no ornaments on it, and only stockings, a Christmas quilt, and a table runner and placemats. What a slacker I am, huh? I just wanted things to be simple this year.

One of my friends posted a photo of orange-clove pomanders on either Facebook or Pinterest not long ago, and I started thinking about that wonderful scent made when the two are combined. I always buy lots of oranges at Christmas anyway, because everybody gets one in their stocking. My mom always did this and I’ve continued the tradition.

So, when I was at the grocery store the other day, I bought some. Besides putting them in stockings, I also wanted to make cranberry-orange relish (my version of the recipe is below). It’s a favorite in my family. I found a huge bag of oranges for $2, so I was pretty tickled.

When I saw whole cloves in the spice aisle, the lightbulb went on. Whole cloves are crazy expensive ($7 and change for that little bottle at WalMart). But when I saw them, I thought that since I had already saved a couple of bucks on the oranges, I would get them.

Honestly, by the time I got home, I couldn’t wait to make the silly things. I barely put the groceries away before I was dumping the bottle out. Oh, that wonderful scent!

I hadn’t made pomanders since I was young, a few years ago, but they were just as easy as I remembered. I had forgotten how sore your thumbs get, though. Maybe u8sinf a fork would be less painful? It took just a few minutes. And that little bottle? It holds a LOT of cloves. I easily have enough left to do another orange.

I read somewhere that technically, you are supposed to make these about six weeks out, completely cover the surface of the orange with cloves, and then bury them in a mixture of orris root and some spices to make sure they last. Then you can hang them in a closet, or amongst your woolens, to help keep moths at bay and make things smell terrific. Well, I didn’t do that, and they will probably rot soon, but that’s okay. I will enjoy them just the same, and then toss them into the compost pile. Maybe next year I’ll make some more and do all the extra steps. I think it’d be a great new/old tradition.

Now, about that relish. There are a gazillion recipes around for it, so if you don’t like my way, Google it and see if you can find sonething you like better. Its delicious!

All I do is put a bag of whole, washed cranberries, a whole, washed orange (including the peel), and a cup of sugar in the food processor. Whirl it up until it’s well chopped (but not too much or it’ll end up like applesauce). Pop it in the fridge overnight to let the flavors blend, and serve it with turkey, or ham, or chicken. I freeze the leftovers and pull them out whenever we need something to brighten up a roast chicken, or even a pork roast. I’ve also learned that you can eat it right out of the freezer, with a spoon, sort of like a cranberry-orange popsicle. Ahem.

It’s funny to think of oranges as a Christmas tradition, but I guess they are absolutely that for me. And with the scent of oranges and cloves around me, I think I have a reason to buy a few more.

I’m off to make my relish now. I’d love to hear about the little traditions you have around the holidays. They definitely do not have to just be for Christmas! What holidays do you celebrate? Leave me a comment, I LOVE to hear from you!

  • Wendy Tuma

    Christmas for us is picking out the tree together; making cookies, especially spritz (haven’t done them yet this year); and my cranberry Christmas punch. Our Thanksgiving tradition is to make a soup together; all of us in the kitchen having fun!

    • Lori East

      Oh, I LOVE all of these ideas, Wendy. Being with one’s we love is such a huge part of what makes any holiday wonderful, isn’t it? I well remember years I lived in Europe and couldn’t ways come home…sometimes it was really hard to not be with family, but I did manage to feed a few lonesome GIs, so the days weren’t wasted at all.