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Winter Holiday Fireside Moments: An Interview with Beth Groundwater

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It’s that time of year when the chill in the frosty air brings us indoors to hunker down with thick comforters and mugs of steaming hot chocolate overflowing with fluffy marshmallows.  When holiday music and movies become the soundtrack to our everyday home lives. When we gather ‘round the fire for company, drink, food and love.  When we are celebrating and remembering those we treasure and hold near and dear.  When the real meaning of the season is family – by our DNA or by our heart.  When we reflect and give thanks for all we have. In a nutshell, unconditional love.

I’d like to welcome Beth Groundwater to share the beauty of the season with us.

Favorite Holiday tradition?

Sitting around in PJ’s and robes on Christmas morning, opening gifts, taking photos, sipping coffee and  eating coffee cake until noon.

Favorite childhood toy?

I was a typical American girl—Barbie’s.

Favorite childhood game?

Monopoly, though Risk was a close second. I’m such a capitalist! I even published a short story about a family playing a game of Risk and learning some life lessons in the process.

Snow ball fight or making snow families?

Making snow families. And getting creative with the add-ons, like cranberries for red lips, walnuts for noses, etc.

Sleigh rides, sledding or skiing?

Downhill skiing, definitely! That’s one o the main reasons my hubby and I are moving to Breckenridge, Colorado on December 13th, to have access to skiing. He’s an expert skier, and I can handle the double-black diamond slopes, though I pick my way down them slowly.

Favorite Holiday song?

“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas”

Favorite holiday movie?

Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Favorite holiday story to read?

An illustrated children’s book of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Snow on holiday eve or just a chill in the air?

In Breckenridge, it’s almost a guarantee that there will be snow on the ground Christmas Eve and Christmas. I’m looking forward to getting out in it, for a walk at least, if not skiing.

Most memorable holiday memory?

Of my father waking us up VERY early one Christmas morning by jingling sleigh bells in our bedroom doorways. He was in the USAF and had to go into work at 5 AM on Christmas. He woke us at 4 AM so he could watch us open our gifts, and we kids were happy to oblige.

 Did you eat popcorn balls as a kid? If you did, do you still?

Yes, and I still enjoy them, though I haven’t had one in a long time. Now I’ve got a hankering for one!

Real tree or artificial? Green or white?

It took me a long time to give up the tradition of a real Christmas tree, because I love the aroma of fresh pine in the house. We have an artificial green tree now, and I have to admit that it’s a LOT easier.

What do you holiday eve?

Usually we watch a feel-good family movie at home with whatever family we’re with that evening. And, we all get to pick one gift to open Christmas Eve, since waiting until Christmas morning is so hard!

What are your holiday plans this year?

This year will be an odd Christmas, since we’re moving a week and a half before it. I won’t be decorating the house much, because the decorations will all be in boxes—as will many of our other belongings! Our son is a baker and has to work on Christmas Day, so we will have our big holiday dinner with him on one of his days off: December 27 or 28. Our daughter is in Oregon and will be joining us for a beach holiday in Mazatlan in January, so we’ll just talk to her by phone on Christmas Day. The phone will be busy that day as we call other relatives scattered throughout the country.

What’s the one holiday dish your family can’t go without?

Honey-glazed, spiral-sliced ham.

Please share a Holiday recipe.

This recipe came from a favorite high school teacher of mine:

Fruitcake Cookies

1 ½ cups raisins           ¼ cup bourbon or brandy

3 cups flour                            1 Tbsp baking soda

1 Tbsp cinnamon                  1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp ground cloves               ½ cup butter

1 cup brown sugar                 4 eggs

1 lb fruitcake mix (small candied cherries, citron, pineapple chunks)

2 cups pecans or walnuts

½ lb whole candied cherries for top

Mix raisins and liquor. Let stand 1 hour while butter softens. Mix flour, soda, and 3 spices. In separate bowl, cream butter, add sugar, then eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Add flour mixture and mix until smooth. Add raisins, fruitcake mix, and nuts and mix well. Cover and chill overnight. With an ice cream scoop, shape into 1″ balls, put on greased cookie sheets and press a candied cherry into the top of each cookie. Bake at 325 degrees for 12-14 minutes. Makes about 6 dozen. When storing, separate with waxed paper because they’ll stick to each other.

Holiday party tip?

KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). I’ve learned over the years that hosting a holiday party is not about the food or the beverages or the decorations, but about good times with people you love.

Favorite holiday decoration?

The Christmas tree, of course! My mother-in-law, whom I dearly loved before she passed away, made cute little handmade ornaments, such as pink pig angels in tutus or walnut shell cradles holding tiny felt mice babies. I always enjoy pulling out her ornaments to place on the tree.

 Wrap, gift bag or bow & go?

Gift bag and bow is the usual for me now.

Gifts or gift cards?

I prefer gifts, but with my family being so widely scattered now, I’m resorting more and more to gift cards.

Do you eat fruitcake?

Yes, as you can probably tell from the recipe I gave you! One of my aunts makes delicious fruitcake, well-soaked in bourbon, and I look forward to getting one from her.

Do you head to the movies on the 25th?

Often, yes.

What’s in your stocking?  *wink*

I have no idea!

What do you want in your stocking? *saucy wink aka swink*

A winning PowerBall ticket. *saucy wink back*

Do you head out on the 26th into the madness to exchange or shop for anything?

Sometimes I used to do that to stock up on Christmas wrapping supplies and cards for the next year, but I don’t anymore.

Thank you so much.

Happy Holidays from my house to yours!

Visit Beth’s website and blog for all the latest happenings.

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About Diane Morasco