This post is actually about the Friday before Christmas...I'm just very delayed in writing it.
I didn't wake up quite early...but when I did awake, I realized very quickly that Mom had already started the preparations for making divinity. She had told me the day before that she would need help making it because we don't have a mixer that spins the bowl automatically (that's another story for another time about how the motor burnt on the one that we had). So, she needed me to use the handmixer and spin the bowl with my hand while she poured the candy mix. Thus, I began to help Mom making Christmas candies, cookies, fudge, etc.
We had a wonderful time! We listened to Christmas music, and were dancing all over the kitchen. Really. Table of Stone can back me up. She joined us later in the day to make the cookies that I traditionally have made. But, I wanted to try something different this year, so I made candy cane cookies. They weren't too bad, but instead of almond extract, I want to try peppermint extract next year.
Besides having great fun with my mom and my sister, I also got to learn how to make all this good stuff. (Because we made, all in all, divinity, candy cane cookies, datenut balls, peanut butter balls, fudge...and Mom made some other stuff later - Chex mix, chow mein candy, and perhaps one or two others. The cookies Table of Stone made are called $250 Chocolate Chip Cookies. Very, very good.)
So, I learned how to tell the difference, when making candy, in "soft ball", "hard ball", and "hard crack". Yes, yes, you can use a candy thermometer that will tell you all of these. But, if you don't have a thermometer, Mom learned from a childhood neighbor, that at the "soft ball" stage, the candy will "spin threads." :-) Who have I lost? And, if you drip it in water, it will harden like a "soft ball." When you drip "hard crack" in, it is very, very, hard.
I look forward to baking every Christmas. My mom, my sister, and I are all in the kitchen together. We make a great big mess together, but we have so much fun. It was a wonderful, wonderful day.