The Sunday after Thanksgiving is Applesauce Day.
The tradition began in 1960, when my parents were newlyweds living in a tiny trailer in Philadelphia on a Navy man’s pay.
I can just picture them, that first Christmas, tromping through the streets of the City of Brotherly Love, stopping at every lot until mom found the perfect tree. I can see her lovingly unwrapping the ornaments she’d tucked into her hope chest and hanging them from the boughs. Standing back. Finding them lost on the limbs of the oversized tree.
As the story goes, she bought a roll of red ribbon and tied a bow to every branch, trying to fill in the empty gaps. Still not satisfied, the tradition of Applesauce Day was born.
Years later, back home in western New York in an eight bedroom house with four stair step children, the tradition continued. On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, while dad and my brother went out to find the perfect tree, mom would get out her big Blue Onion mixing bowl and rolling pin while my sister and I raced to the corner store for cinnamon and a jumbo jar of applesauce.
Soon the big house would fill with that good, holiday feeling and the spicy sweet scent that will always mean Christmas to me, as mom, my sisters and I mixed, rolled and baked the afternoon away. Hours later the fruits of our labor would be everywhere. Whimsical snowmen and Santa’s would hang from the staircase, from the dormers, and from the holly boughs that garlanded the drafty windows. Pretty angels and fat ginger boys would adorn the mantle and the tree. Our favorite ornaments would be set aside, used later to decorate packages and cookie baskets.
The corner store is boarded up now. Mom is gone and my sister has long since moved out of state. But as surely as the sun will rise on November 25, I will get out the Blue Onion mixing bowl, a jar of applesauce, and a rolling pin. As I work, I will think of a small trailer in a big city. And of a very big love. As I spend the afternoon rolling, cutting and baking, my little house will fill with joy and the cinnamon scent of the Holidays. And a tradition will live on.
APPLESAUCE ORNAMENTS - Non Edible!
14 tablespoons warm applesauce
22 tablespoons cinnamon
1” cookie cutters (assorted)
- Makes 20 ornaments -
1. Mix together warm applesauce and cinnamon and form a dough ball
2.) Sprinkle pastry board lightly with cinnamon; roll out dough ¼” thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out dough shapes.
3.) Place cut-outs on a cookie sheet and dry in 150 degree oven, leaving door slightly ajar. Dry for 4-6 hours. Remove from oven. Cool.
4.) Cut two 6” pieces of thin ribbon for each ornament (I use red!) Make a loop from one piece of ribbon: glue ends of ribbon loop to front of ornament, near the top. Tie another piece of ribbon into a small bow and glue bow to top of ornament, covering loop ends.
Hang on your tree, or use to decorate special packages. Enjoy!