Five Golden Rings, and a Few of my Favorite Things

Welcome  Oh, I bet we like the sound of that gift!  On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…five golden rings.  Five golden rings, or bracelets, or necklaces, or earrings.  All things pretty and sparkly!  Turns out, those five golden rings may not even be actual adornments, but referring to five ring-necked birds.  If you read yesterday’s post in The Twelve Days of Christmas series, you learned that likely the first seven days’ gifts are referring to various birds served for a holiday feast.  But there’s plenty of other birds to talk about in this series, so I’m going with the more secular meaning of the song today.  And how about some beautiful golden onion rings with a spicy buffalo ranch dipping sauce for today’s recipe?  Sounds good enough to share!  Note–I may receive small compensation from affiliate links seen on this blog post.  For additional information, please see my Terms and Disclosure page.

Food For Thought  Have you ever noticed that when we get to the fifth day in our carol, we sing with gusto and emphasis.  I think it may be because that’s the part we get excited about…those shiny golden rings!  As the generations move forward, we are getting more and more materialistic with our Christmas holiday.  We have been conditioned to associate the Christmas holiday with giving and receiving gifts.  But even someone like myself, who takes offense at things like “Black Friday” and television commercials that elude to the idea that if you don’t buy them a Lexus or $5000 piece of jewelry, you ruined their holiday, can get sucked into the secular side of the season.  I’m not going to lecture anyone today about keeping the Christmas holiday purely religious or mislead anyone into thinking I don’t act like a kid in a toy store when it’s time to shop for new Christmas decorations.  Today, I’m going to share my favorite features of the Christmas holiday season from an innocent-enough worldly viewpoint.

1 Christmas Decorations  I love to put up the tree with all of its twinkling lights and the boxes upon boxes of Christmas ornaments I have been collecting my entire life.  The memories wrapped up in those balls and baubles are meaningful on so many levels.  I cannot imagine a December without my first Christmas ornaments along with the newlywed ornament from the first Christmas my husband and I celebrated together.  And we continue to add to the tree each year by picking up souvenir ornaments from our favorite vacation spots and ornaments for our daughter’s collection.  Not to mention the stockings, pillows, throws, ceramic trees, and arrangements scattered throughout the rooms.  And we have just about the most perfect fireplace and mantel for decorating!  Deck the halls, friends!

Christmas 2017
Our Christmas tree for 2017.

2 Christmas Lights  I’m not talking about the ones we have on our tree, but the ones adorning people’s houses all over town and throughout the city.  We have no outdoor electric outlets at our house and would not consider it budget friendly to have any installed, so we have never had our own outdoor holiday lighting.  But at least once per Christmas season, my husband, daughter, and I take an evening and drive around town looking at everyone else’s lights.  We provide all the appropriate ooh’s and ah’s and are very much appreciative of the work the people have done to provide neighborhood merriment.

3 Christmas Baking  Cookie and candy making have been a Christmas tradition for me as far back as I can remember.  Growing up, our family was very “low income”, but my mom was determined to give gifts to everyone she had contact with throughout the year.  That meant she would gather large platters and stuff them to the edges with all sorts of homemade confections.  Even this most recent Thanksgiving weekend, my daughter helped her bake almost 200 cookies for a platoon of soldiers stationed in Afghanistan.  I can’t imagine a Christmas season without these baking sessions and I am now carrying on these traditions in my own kitchen.

4 Gifting  My husband and I like to buy gifts for people, and we like them to mean something.  Sometimes it’s difficult when your bank account doesn’t match your “gifting heart,” but we still have packages to share with family, friends, and even some strangers.

5 Christmas Music  Joy to the World is pretty much all the meaning of the season wrapped up in one carol.  But I like almost all Christmas music…just not the one about Grandma and the reindeer!  I like the classic performances, instrumental, and new rock versions.  I think what makes it so special is that we don’t hear it all year, so when it comes around to the season of Christmas carols, it really sets the scene.

6 Christmas Movies  Complete with hot cocoa and cozy fleece blankets.  Again, I like a lot of Christmas movies, but not all.  My two favorites are A Christmas Story and A Charlie Brown Christmas.

cookie baking traditions
My favorite cookie assistant!

7 Family Traditions  Every family needs their own traditions, which is a combination of old and new.  I have carried on traditions from my childhood regarding tree ornaments, the handling of stockings, and a baking bonanza.  But my husband and I have started a few traditions of our own with our daughter.  One of those traditions sounds sad to some, but to us, it is wonderful.  Our combined families are large and spread out and travel is hectic, especially for aging parents.  My husband has very limited time off work during Christmas, usually just Christmas Day.  So, we spend the weekend before Christmas with my husband’s family and the weekend after Christmas with my family.  Christmas Eve and Day are spent with just the three of us here at home.  We stay in our PJ’s and snack throughout the morning.  We let our daughter play with her new toys and often join in building with the Lego’s or playing the board games.  We take naps in the afternoon.  We enjoy a nice, quiet dinner at home together.  We love how this fits our schedule, and everyone else’s, too.

8 “Get Togethers”  People just love to come together this time of year.  It seems like there’s a party or celebration every week between Thanksgiving and Christmas, sometimes even more.  As long as our calendar doesn’t get too overwhelmed, I enjoy these a lot.  A chance to laugh and visit with others, find out how their year has gone, and a chance to share some of those baked goods, as I always seem to have a stock pile!  After all, the joy of the season is more about people and relationships than the shiny objects in the boxes.

9 Breakfast Sweets on Christmas Morning  No other morning of the year is it acceptable at our house to eat cookies and candy for breakfast.  Or just donuts or cinnamon rolls.  On Christmas Morning all three of us act like kids.  Freshly opened packages strewn about the living room while we lounge in our flannel and fleece, grabbing a cookie here and a piece of fudge there.  Why should the children be the only ones being spoiled on Christmas morning?

10 Santa Surprises  My daughter is almost eleven years old, yet Santa still makes a visit to our house every Christmas Eve.  There are mysterious packages that show up under the tree for Christmas morning and the stockings are magically filled overnight.  Parents, I beg you, do not rush these moments!  Once the Santa Surprises are no longer part of your Christmas routine, a little piece of holiday joy will die away.  Don’t let it slip away too soon!

Today’s Scripture  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”  Luke 2:14

Today’s Recipe  Five golden rings?  How about golden onion rings?  And a dipping sauce?  Whether you’re watching a big bowl game this New Year’s or just want to entertain some friends, onion rings make a great appetizer or side choice.  This is my recipe for Sweet Vidalia Onion Rings and a Buffalo Ranch Dipping Sauce.  Come back Monday for a great burger recipe to accompany your rings!  Side note–I don’t fry in oil very, because I find these foods to set rather heavily in the tummy.  If you have a trick or two for lightening up your frying, please share in the comments today or check in our Facebook page.

Golden Onion Rings with Buffalo Ranch Sauce (serves 6-8)

  • 1 large Vidalia sweet onion
  • 2 cups baking mix, such as Bisquick, divided
  • 1 tsp EACH paprika, chili powder, cumin, and salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 cup ranch dressing
  • 2-3 TBS buffalo sauce

Slice onion into thick rounds, separate into rings.  Place 1/2 cup baking mix in a large zip-top bag.  Add onion rings and shake to coat.  In large bowl combine remaining baking mix, spices, and buttermilk.  In large skillet (I use an deep-sided electric skillet for mine) add about 1/4 inch oil and heat to medium high.  Add onion rings to buttermilk mixture.  Use tongs to lift onion rings out of batter, allowing any excess to drain off, then adding to hot oil.  Turn after about 2 minutes, and continue to cook until golden brown.  Line a baking sheet or platter with a couple of layers of paper towels.  Remove cooked onion rings to paper towels to drain and cool slightly.  Add a sprinkling of salt, if desired.  Turn down the heat on your skillet to medium after the first batch, or your oil may burn.  Continue to cook remaining onion rings.  For sauce, combine ranch dressing and buffalo sauce in bowl, whisking until combined.  Serve with onion rings.

Recommended products for today’s post include an electric skillet, tongs, and mixing bowls.  Here are the products I use.  Check out these links from 12/15/17. 

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