When I recall Christmas from my childhood, I may not always remember who was at the house a particular year or what presents I received, but I vividly remember three things: a savory cheese ball coated with chili powder; a platter of German Christmas Cookies decorated with red, green, yellow and white icing; a punch bowl surrounded by a garland of poinsettias and filled with Kool-Aid punch. My mother only made these goodies at Christmas which made them special.
I don't follow my mother's Christmas tradition -- I only make the cheese ball and punch every few years -- except for the Christmas cookies. I've made these cookies every Christmas for the last 18 years. Last Christmas, when my brother and his family visited from Atlanta, for old time's sake, I made all three items just like our mother did every Christmas.
The punch uses a package of cherry Kool-Aid which gives it a beautiful red hue that's perfect for Christmas. If you prefer a green punch, use a package of lime Kool-Aid instead of cherry.
The easiest way to make the punch is with a clean gallon milk jug. Pour the contents of the lemonade and cherry Kool-Aid packages in the jug, along with sugar and 2 cups water. Put the lid on the jug and shake it to combine the ingredients.
Add a large can of pineapple juice.
Add water to completely fill the jug.
Put on the lid, shake the jug to combine the ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use. I make the punch a day or two ahead of time so it gets thoroughly chilled.
If you're not using a gallon jug, stir the ingredients thoroughly whenever the recipe calls for shaking the jug to combine the ingredients. You'll need to add 7 1/2 cups water after you add the pineapple juice.
When my mother was ready to serve the punch, she poured it into a punch bowl and added a quart of pineapple sherbet. The sherbet gave the punch a creamy consistency and the small chunks of pineapple added some texture. I'm not a fan of sherbet or ice cream in punch so I leave it out. However, if you like sherbet, go ahead and add it to the punch bowl. If you're using lime Kool-Aid, add a quart of lime sherbet instead of pineapple. After you add the sherbet, stir in a can of chilled 7-Up.
Most punch recipes call for a carbonated beverage such as Sprite, ginger ale or 7-Up. My mother tried all three beverages over the years, but the best punch was always made with 7-Up. We only drink diet drinks, but this is one time we'll use the real thing. You can still make the punch with diet 7-Up, but it's not as good.
To make sure the last glass of punch tastes as good as the first, add a quart of sherbet and a can of chilled 7-Up everytime you replenish the punch bowl. If you're not using sherbet, just add the can of 7-Up.
Now that I'm a mother, I can appreciate why my mother only made these items at Christmas. She knew not only was it something to look forward to, but something to look back on with fond memories that last a lifetime.
water (enough to fill the jug or 7 1/2 cups)