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December 1, 2020

We’ve made it to the end of 2020, and hopefully you and your family members are healthy and well. It’s almost Christmas and, for me, Christmas is a special time. It’s special not only because my business generally booms during the holiday season but, more importantly, because I love Christmas. I’m going to get a little personal with this month’s message so bear with me.

I was raised in a religion that didn’t allow me to celebrate Christmas as a child. Our family never had a tree; carols were never sung in our home. I never received a Christmas present, and I always knew Santa Claus wasn’t real. There was zero Christmas spirit, cheer, or nostalgia. My parents were wonderful, but they were steadfast in their belief that Christmas was not to be celebrated in our home. At school, while other kids colored pictures of Santa and the reindeer, I colored the letter R for Rita. And when we went to music class, I awkwardly sat in silence as the other children sang all the traditional Christmas songs one after another.

When I was 18 years old I left the church I grew up in, and a month before my 19th birthday I celebrated Christmas for the first time. I remember as if it were yesterday. I had my own apartment, and I went to Target and bought one of those two-feet-tall Christmas trees that came with pre-installed lights and tiny ornaments. It sat in the corner of my little apartment, and I was so happy.

The year my husband and I bought our first house, I raced out and purchased our first tree but had no idea how to decorate it. I put the bulbs on first and they all came tumbling down when I tried to install the lights. Ha! Ha! Rookie mistake! Lights first, then the ornaments, Rita!

When my children were born, I spared no expense and had the biggest tree with the most beautiful lights and ornaments. The candles warmed our home with their Christmas fragrances, and I cooked and baked and bought them all the presents they could want. My children would not be denied Christmas joy!

When I was 36, my boyfriend at the time couldn’t believe that I’d never experienced the Nutcracker in any form or fashion so he treated me to The Nutcracker ballet. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever witnessed, and I cried during the performance.

For years, my Cranberry Walnut Spice served as my go-to “holiday” flavor and it still does. But last year I wanted to come up with an alternative flavor. As you know, I love fusing my baklava with fruit so I decided to make a Sugar Plum version as an homage to the beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy and my love for Christmas.

So there you have it, friends…Sugar Plum Walnut! Enjoy the subtle hints of plum and the sweetness of the sugar along with the honey and spices. Relish the Christmas season as much as I’ve grown to appreciate it over the years. It’s cold outside, but it’s my hope that your home is always warm inside with love, good food, the company of your family, and the comfort the holiday season always seems to bring

So, from our house to yours, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Blessings that you remain healthy and safe!