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Citrus at Christmas

There are plenty of parties to attend during the season of Christmas. At one recently, someone brought Donna Sue and me a bag of kumquats. No, I did not misspell what she brought. It was a bag of kumquats. Most of you will be familiar with the small, almost like an orange kind of fruit.

It’s almost like an orange in color, but opposite in taste. For instance, with an orange, the fruit is, hopefully, sweet and the peel is bitter. With a kumquat, most of the time, the inside fruit is sour, while the peel is sweet. How does one eat a kumquat? I don’t. Donna Sue loves them, but I am not a lover of kumquats. Eating them is easy, though. Just bite into the little fruit, peel and all.

Most of the kumquats I have seen growing are elongated, but these were round. I think the round ones are sweeter than the other kind.

A young girl asked what they were. I said, “Miniature oranges.”

I suggested, “Take a knife and cut a hole in the top and suck the juice out.” I was kidding, but the young girl looked at me as if I was Captain “Looney-Tunes.” Then I realized that she didn’t know what I was talking about.

Remember when oranges were a seasonal fruit? That’s one of my fondest memories about the Christmas season. Nowadays, the produce departments in our stores have some variety of orange the year round. But when I was young and Christmas was such a season of anticipation, Florida citrus were a “Christmas thing.”

Alongside the gifts that Santa might bring would be a bag of oranges or tangerines. They were so juicy and, since we didn’t have them at any other time of the year, we enjoyed them so.

A favorite way of eating a juicy orange was to take a knife and cut a hole in the top of the orange. Then, with our hands, we would squeeze the orange and suck the juice out of it. When all the juice was out, we would tear the orange in half and eat the pulp. You remember that, don’t you?

Tangerines were easier to peel than oranges and I liked them just as much. Especially the ones with no seeds.

A neighbor of ours had a very large satsuma tree. Satsumas are like tangerines, only better. The reason? Again, they have no seeds and may be more consistently sweeter than tangerines. Mr. Layton’s grandson and I would stand around that satsuma tree and eat a dozen of them at the time. Wonder we didn’t get sick!

Florida citrus was a great stocking stuffer when I was growing up. Are stockings still hung by the chimney with care? Or on the mantle? How many of you had a stocking with your name on it?

Besides Florida oranges, there was another Christmas gift that was traditional at our house. Chocolate candy. These days, chocolate candy bars are not such a big deal, but when I was growing up, chocolate candy bars were special.

Santa was generous to bring us a box of Nestlé’s Crunches. That’s the delicious chocolate bar with puffed rice in it. They still make them, but, as with most other things, they’re not the same. The difference? The old bar was much thicker. Yes, I’m being picky, but it’s the little things that makes one remember with joy.

Christmas is for remembering with joy. Like oranges only at that time of the year. And candy bars that could be eaten with no guilt because you did not get them all the time. And a slinky every year. Or a paddle with a little red ball attached to a rubber band. “These are a few of my favorite things.”