Visions of Sugar Plums

“…visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads….”
-Clement Clark Moore

It is the first week of December. Normally that would not be a sentence that would grab your attention. But with the mere mention of December, visions of sugar plums dance in our heads. Even if we are not quite sure what sugar plums are. Being the intrepid investigative reporter I am, I am going to reveal to you just what a sugar plum is, right after I look it up on the internet. Talk amongst yourselves for a minute, I will be back…..

Okay, I got a lot more information than I bargained for, so I will give you the definition of Sugar Plum in a nutshell. It is not a sugared plum. In fact the term has very little to do with the plum other than the fact that the first sugar plums were similar in size and shape to the fruit. I gleaned this information from an article written by Samira Kawash revealingly called “Sugar Plums: They’re Not What You Think They Are”. Kawash says that “the sugar plums of Christmas fantasy are in fact sugar” spun around a central seed of caraway or cardamom. The confections were popular in the 1800’s but have their origin in the 1600’s when the meaning was not sweet at all. If you had a mouthful of sugar plums a few centuries ago, you could be considered deceitful (meaning you spoke sweet words with a false heart).

Kawash likens the sugar plum to today’s jawbreaker, as the process of conjuring up the sweet treat is much the same, though certainly not as inspiring. When Clement Moore wrote “Twas the Night Before Christmas”, he used “sugar plum” to convey “the excitement, the pleasure, the childlike wonder of Christmas, all in the shape of a little sugar plum.” Kawash also explains that Tchaikovsky used the Sugar Plum to rule the Kingdom in the Nutcracker Ballet because it was the “universal signifier of everything sweet and delectable and lovely.”

Some of the other things that dance in my head at this time of year are not sweet and lovely: “to do” lists with unrealistic goals; stress derived from trying to find the perfect gift for everyone; and my eternal struggle with the turkey question: will I or won’t I take on the festive bird one more time.

I am learning, albeit slowly that the trimming of the “to do” list to essentials is vital to what is left of my mental health; that there is no truly perfect gift; and that a ham or prime rib stands in beautifully for my nemesis, the turkey.

Keeping the important traditions, while adding a few new is also what keeps Christmas from getting stale. I am thinking of moving my Charlie Brown Christmas tree from its usual corner to another spot this year—and depending on how loud the hue and outcry from my family is, I may just do that.

The original reason for the season is not lost during the preparations for gatherings of friends and family, but the warm feeling that comes from shared camaraderie is a wonderful and comforting thing during the winter days to come. I am ready to take on another Christmas season with visions of all that is “sweet and delectable and lovely.”

What are your “visions” for Christmas this year?

Published in: on December 2, 2015 at 2:45 pm  Comments (7)