‘Twas The Season by Kelly Montgomery

It ‘s been said that there are 3 seasons in the retail year:  Before Christmas. Christmas. And after Christmas. Yes. Absolutely. 

Here’s how it goes at Marcels:

It begins in the spring, giving new meaning to ‘keep Christmas in your heart all year.” Dana and Jill will scour catalogs, scout a few shows and start ordering holiday merchandise. Snow men in June? It’s hard to put yourself in the mindset, but there they are.

Fast forward a few months. It’s late summer and the orders start trickling in through the back door.  And then it snowballs. It’s a fun little perk of our job. We get a chance to preview the merchandise customers won’t see for months. Ha! 

Next thing you know, someone is saying, me included,  “Hey Rita, did you see those mice ornaments? They have new outfits this year!” or “Guys! Come check out the Juliska stuff that just came in!” 

Before you know it, it’s mid-November. You’ll find our retail staff (and a few random awesome people who show up year after year) bringing up boxes and boxes of holiday merchandise and decorating the store. The whole thing.  In approximately 5 hours. It must get done, (since the very next night is Ladies Night Out!) 

And so the season begins—for you, our customer, bringing familiar faces and new ones as well, in varying degrees excited, stressed, dazed, hangry, focused, exhausted, over caffeinated, under caffeinated (or even a little tipsy!) Yes, we know. And it’s OK!

Shockingly early in December customers will begin to triumphantly shout, “I’m done! I had this one gift to get and now I’m finally done!” This, of course, sets off a growing panic here, and across the retail industry, that we haven’t even started!! Nor had we noticed since we all genuinely like working together. It’s fun to see the whole team in action at the same time. Organized chaos!

Somehow or other it all gets done so we can focus on getting ready for our own Christmas now. And soon enough, next Christmas for you all.

This might sound like the Nightmare Before Christmas more than anything else, but it’s actually quite the opposite. Something I didn’t really grasp until this year, when I couldn’t participate much due to a thumb injury and rehab. 

But more than the preparation and start to the holiday bustle, it’s the mulled cider. The private office parties and events. The samples. The smells from the kitchen. Everything. Like one constant Christmas Eve for however many days that I realize I miss. And, I’m missing out on. Cook. Create. Celebrate never meant more than during the holidays.

It has been said that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Yes. Absolutely.

Happy Holidays everybody.

A Message from my Mom by Karen Fleming

The other day I was looking through my stash of loose recipes for my  Mom’s signature homemade fudge.  As long as I can remember, she loved to make this delicious fudge and give it as a gift to friends or bring to family gatherings.  At Christmas we each got our own special tin.  While in my search I came across a recipe book that my Mom had made for me in 1988.  It’s filled with 3 dozen of her favorites recipes, all handwritten on cards.  I have made many of these through the years but as my cookbook collection has grown, along with the numerous recipes cut out from the food section, magazines or on-line, I had forgotten about it.  My Mom loved to cook and she was very adventurous, always trying new recipes. She loved being in the kitchen, she felt at home there. 

I realized that my Mom passed on this love of cooking to me.  I’m always trying new recipes and enjoy the entire process from the chopping to putting that warm meal on the table for my family – many times holding my breath to see if it’s a “keeper”.  I feel very fortunate to be surrounded at Marcel’s by people who love to cook and share dishes they have made. I always enjoy talking to our customers when they come in looking for a special ingredient or piece of cookware or gadget to help complete a dish they are making. Cooking is a wonderful creation of something special.   

As the holidays are fast approaching, I hope that we all get out those traditional family recipes or be adventurous and try some new ones.  Of course a cooking class with our wonderful & creative chefs is always a great gift for yourself or someone you love. 

Recipes are meant to be shared so I will happily share my mom’s yummy fudge with you and her beautiful words from the recipe book she made me. 

My darling Karen,  I hope you enjoy making these recipes as much as I enjoyed making them for you. You are and always will be a joy to cook for.  Happy cooking in the days ahead.   I love you, Mom  

Mom’s Fudge 

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup margarine
2/3 cup evaporated milk (5 fl. oz)
1  12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1  7 oz. jar Marshmallow Creme
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine sugar, margarine and milk in heavy 2 1/2 to 3 quart sauce pan and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Continue boiling for about 5 minutes over medium heat until candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.  Remove from heat; stir in chocolate chips until melted.  Add marshmallow cream, nuts and vanilla; stirring until well blended.  Pour into greased 9×13 inch pan.  Cool at room temperature.  Cut into squares.  Makes 3 pounds.