So, 2009 comes to a close – not just the end of a year, but a whole decade! And what a year it was – I started this blog, committed to running the marathon, and generally had a pretty good year in spite of it being kind of lousy for a lot of folks I know. Still, there’s always room for improvement, and I’m hoping that 2010 will bring even better adventures!
That said, I’m a big ol’ traditionalist, especially around the holidays. For New Year’s Eve, that means staying home, playing board games, and Chex Mix. When I was a kid, my mother, who’s a nurse, always had to work New Year’s to make up for the fact that she took off Christmas. Since she usually worked the graveyard shift, that really meant working New Year’s Eve, so she and my dad never went to parties – she went to work, and he stayed home with us girls, which he always turned into its own kind of party. We’d have ginger ale in champagne flutes (and he’d have Asti Spumante, since he likes it better than champagne) and tons of snacks, none of which was more sacred than the Chex Mix. He made it (yes, children, once upon a time you could not buy Chex Mix in a bag but HAD to make it yourself) in massive quantities according to the recipe used by his aunt, Mary. Great-Aunt Mary’s recipe is fairly similar to the one that Ralston-Purina’s been putting on the box since 1952, but with a few key variations.
First, the pretzels should be stick pretzels, not minis. This change is necessary to mesh with the other one, which is that Cheerios need to be added to the mix. Until recently, Chex and Cheerios had two different makers, so this was a rather scandalous addition, but an important one. For starters, the Cheerios suck up the butter sauce that coats the mix like nobody’s business, resulting in delightful little flavor-bombs. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, without Cheerios, what would you use as the wheels of your tiny Chex car? (See? The pretzel sticks are the axles!)
We’ve been making little cars out of our food as a family for as far back as I can remember, but one year it got totally out of hand (by then most of us girls were adults). My best friend came over and we sat with my parents and ended up making an entire Chex town, complete with a pig pen and a bus stop. Keep in mind that we were over 21 years old. I wish I had the pictures to show you, but alas, this predated my digital cameras. It was an utterly ridiculous evening, and one of the best New Year’s Eves I’ve ever spent.
These days I stay with Mr. Menace in my own apartment, but I still insist on Chex Mix as part of our celebrations. It’s a symbol of love, family, and enough salt to cure your tongue in your mouth. Happy New Year, y’all – let’s make 2010 the best year yet!