Ceremony of the Brandy Cream Sauce

December 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Living Space

Christmas Pudding Christmas is full of ceremonies. When I think about it I think of church, Christmas concerts at school, the sharing of food, the giving of gifts and many more little ceremonies that give richness to the season.

My favourite ceremony of all is one that is special to my family. It was started by my father many years ago and it always formed an essential part of Christmas Day. It is the ceremony of the brandy cream sauce.

My father was a large, gruff man who did not show his emotions very well. He was at his happiest when all his family was around him and he could see that we were fit and happy. He loved to feed us whether we needed it or not. Food was his way of showing that he cared, not that he ever ventured into the kitchen to get it!

His culinary contribution to Christmas Day was his brandy cream sauce. It was a ceremonial event involving the separating of the eggs, the beating of the cream and the magical method of combining them all into a delicious but calorie-laden sauce. My brothers and I used to watch him make it because it amazed us that he could actually cook.

Every year, at the same time of Christmas Day, he would go into the kitchen and prepare. Every year, at the same time of Christmas Day, we would follow him and enjoy the fun.

Eventually there came a Christmas when Dad was no longer with us. I remember how empty it felt when 12 noon rolled around and there was no one in the kitchen making the sauce. My brothers and I were lost. Dad’s absence was aching in us all. It wasn’t a real Christmas without our special ceremony.

My youngest brother decided to make the sauce himself. The rest of us gathered as we used to do, but this time we were all trying to remember the recipe. We put our heads together and constructed a gorgeous cream but then it was time to add the brandy. How much? Too much? Too little? We didn’t know. It was now that our roles changed forever from passive observers to active taste-testers. I can tell you now that it takes a while for the brandy in the sauce to make itself known. That first year our sauce was a kick to the taste buds!

The ceremony has changed now. We are all involved in the making of the brandy cream sauce. Five of us crowd around a brandy bottle and a bowl of cream. There are elbows and tasting spoons everywhere as we jostle for a place near the action. The emphasis has shifted from the making of the cream to the tasting of it but the ceremony that Dad started is still central to our Christmas. What a lovely way to keep Dad with us forever.


11 Responses to “Ceremony of the Brandy Cream Sauce”
  1. Marilynn Grimm says:

    When people ask me if I believe in Santa Claus, I reply it is hard not to, my Father was Santa Claus. My parents made wonderful Christmases for my brother and I and many and others. The Christmas traditions sometimes overshadowed the birth of Jesus. However, it was their faith that caused them to be gracious and giving people. I BELIEVE !!!

    marilynn thornburg grimm

  2. Anne, what a beautiful story – thank you so much for sharing your Father, and your Brothers with us! It’s obvious yours is a close and loving family, and I am thrilled you choose to share that with us here.

    There really is something about a special ceremony that is unique to a family that sets it apart as a real connection between family members, even when they are no longer with us.

    Wishing you, your family, and your brothers a wonderful celebration and may the sauce be extra yummy this year :) I treasure your writing and celebrate the day you started to share your writing with us here!!

  3. Anne Maybus says:

    Thank you Karen. It has become something special to us. Funny, there must be a lot of ceremonies associated with certain people that we don’t really appreciate until they are gone. With ceremonies we tend to think of pomp and circumstance when really they are just celebrated interactios of all sizes.

    Thank you for letting me write for you. Merry Christmas to everyone here.

  4. What a wonderful legacy your father nurtured all those years! Those are the moments that make Christmas, and a family. Thanks for sharing, Anne.

  5. Anne Maybus says:

    Thank you, Angela. Isn’t it funny that it is the simple things you remember? This was never intended to be a ceremony or tradition. It just happened.

  6. What a beautiful and inspiring story Anne. Enjoy your brandy filled Christmas again this year.

  7. Danni Lake says:

    What a beautiful tradition, and I’m sure your father watches each year, smiling at you all gathered around the brandy cream sauce :)

  8. Anne Maybus says:

    And so we begin Christmas Day. I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and holiday season. I am sure Dad is preparing to visit us to supervise the ceremony of the brandy cream sauce. Happy holidays to you all.

  9. Maree says:

    Thank you Anne, that is a beautiful story. Merry Christmas to you.

  10. Emmalou says:

    We have a boozy fruit soaking ceremony. Don’t quite know how it started by it’s not December if I can’t smell dried fruit soaking brandy and scotch readying for the Christmas cake and pudding.