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Christmas Miracles and Peanut Butter Fudge

December 2, 2015

I received a much needed and highly unexpected gift this evening, something of inestimable worth. It lasted but a moment, but it was a moment of great significance and value because it gave me something I haven’t had for over twenty years – Christmas with my mother’s mother.

Grandmother, Mema, at Christmas


Mema passed away over two decades ago. She was a fixture in my life and we were very close.

What served as the vehicle for this miracle was a tin of homemade peanut butter fudge. One of my quilting friends, Sharon H., makes this fudge every year for our quilt guild’s pitch-in Christmas dinner. It’s always good fudge, but this year it was remarkable.

When I arrived at the guild meeting tonight and saw her carrying the festive holiday tin, I called out to her and told her I hoped that was peanut butter fudge inside that tin. She laughed, flashed me a conspiratorial look, and admitted that it was indeed, because no one would let her come if it wasn’t. We smiled and laughed, because that’s not far from the truth. Sharon’s fudge is legendary. Later, as we gathered around one of the large round dining tables to wait for the confluence of women to settle down and the event to begin, the conversation again turned to fudge. It was a serious discussion on the temperamental qualities of fudge, that even time-tested-and-trusted recipes seldom gave identical results. Irene S., another quilting friend, shared an opinion that humidity seemed to play an important role in the success of failure of a batch. Sharon remarked that this year her batch had turned out exceptionally well, her best ever.

Our table’s time came to go through the food line. Desserts are always at the far end of the line, and I hoped there would still be fudge left. When I reached it, the tin was half-emptied. Given the impressive number and quality of sweets brought in, that says a lot about Sharon’s fudge. I greedily snagged two pieces for my dessert plate.

After eating fried chicken, buttered carrots, green beans and scalloped potatoes, I began to nibble away at my desserts. Quilters like to sample lots of things, so desserts are normally cut into many small portions. I had banana bread, a dark chocolate brownie crowned with tiny chocolate morsels, and Sharon’s fudge. The bread was mine. It had turned out well. The brownie was excellent. And then I bit into the fudge.

I actually had a flashback. The rich roasted peanut flavor, the creamy texture with just a hint of sugary graininess – it was a perfect match to the fudge my Mema made every single Christmas as I was growing up. As the fudge melted in my mouth, the sensation conjured up memories of being in Mema and Grandad’s home on Christmas Eve, with huge white plastic containers filled with peanut butter fudge, and chocolate fudge – with and without nuts. The containers came from the little corner grocery store that my grandparents owned. Originally packed with bulk foods for the deli counter, the 2 – 3 gallon tubs were saved and scrupulously cleaned afterward, for multiple purposes, but none so wonderful as being literally filled with homemade fudge.

In retrospect, I wish I could say that tears filled my eyes, that I choked up and embraced Sharon, sobbing with joyous nostalgia, but that did not happen. I did tell her, though, that her fudge was perfect, that it was the closest thing I had ever had to my grandmother’s fudge. It turns out they used the same recipe, the one on the jar of Kraft-brand marshmallow crème – with one small difference. Sharon uses peanut butter chips with a scoop of real peanut butter for enhanced flavor. My grandmother always used straight peanut butter. Peanut butter chips had not been available when I was small, and she never altered the way she made her fudge. But the confectionary experience of eating Sharon’s fudge was close – darned near identical.

With every bite of fudge – and I managed to euphorically devour two additional pieces, I was allowed to relive treasured bits of childhood, if only for a moment. And in those moments I received one of the most priceless yuletide gifts anyone could ever ask for.

Xmas Tree 2014

Thank you, Sharon, for the gift of a small miracle.

  1. What a gift! I loved reading about your Christmas miracle.

    • Thanks, was such a wonderful feeling to have. People tell us smell and taste are the biggest triggers of memories, and for me, that bite of fudge was a huge one!

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