Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bark Party

For as long as I can remember, the holiday season has brought with it a flurry of activity.  Along with the traditional sights of Christmas trees and twinkling lights, the familiar smells of cookies baking and apple cider, the sound of Christmas carols in the background everywhere, for my family there's a different sound that signals the beginning of the holidays.  It's a peculiar "tink, tink, tink" sound, made by forks being tapped against my great-grandmother's mixing bowls (the red bowl below is one of them, my mom's favorite).  You see, in addition to baking cookies, we make white and milk chocolate covered pretzels, coconut, and pecans.

Rather than stress about getting little gifts for everyone she comes in contact with on a regular basis, my mom puts together little treat bags for her coworkers, not-that-close friends, the mailman, and when we were all still in school, our teachers (I'm not above bribing a teacher for a grade, not that it ever worked). My cousin Cody even gets his own special bag of pretzels every year, so he doesn't have to share with his brothers.

The pecans and coconut aren't too challenging, just melt the chocolate then pour in coconut or pecans and scoop them out in bite size pieces.  The pretzels though...  Oh goodness.  They take so much effort because the excess chocolate needs to be removed from the pretzel, otherwise the balance of sweet and salty really is affected.  The removal of said excess is what results in that very distinct "tink, tink, tink" that I've come to associate with Christmastime.  That sound means we're having a Bark Party at my mom's house and our family will soon be all together though this year Anna came home with me and the two of us, plus my mom, did most of the barking. 

Things are changing for my family; my step sister and Dominique are both back in Texas now, and my brother-in-law will be stationed in North Carolina this coming October, taking my lovely sister and sweet baby niece with him.  It'll be tough to adjust to not having them around every time I go home, but I suppose that's part of growing up and it'll make the time we do spend together at the holidays even more special.   

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