Tea cup served on wooden table

 

With all my heart I believe in magic. Oh, how I hope we’re the same, you and me.

Not rabbits out of hats or the dark and mystical, only in the sweetest sense of the word–

The things that steal my breath, explode my heart, and make me want to burst into an ovation of gratitude; seriously, those closest to me know I clap (or jump) in the presence of magical delights–

How a bird gathers twigs and twine and puzzles them into a home…

The way a firefly strobes on a warm summer night…

Rainbows after storms, skies striped in lightning, a wave’s thunderous applause…

And what happens around my kitchen and dining room tables.

mag·ic (‘majik)
noun: quality that makes something seem removed from everyday life,
especially in a way that gives delight,
something that has a delightfully unusual quality.
adjective: wonderful; exciting
 
It doesn’t matter if we’re with family or friends, time is suspended when we gather at a table. We eat, we drink, we give and receive, and for those few extraordinary moments, we’re removed from a sometimes harsh world in a way that wholly celebrates life. 

A table is a special place, a sacred space, where heart, soul and body are nourished. 

It is home alter and first classroom, where we learn to serve and be served.

Thanksgiving is within spitting distance and Christmas is right around the corner, both when traditions scatter deep and wide. I love that about the holidays, don’t you? The older I get the more I appreciate the value in our family’s traditions, the practices my people have learned to expect year after year. I’m convinced traditions aren’t just important, they matter for a lot of reasons.

It’s never too late to begin a new tradition, and the holiday season seems to have many anchored right around the table. 

When Thanksgiving is hosted in our home, I require at least one “ticket” for entry; I figure it’s a reasonable trade-off for my work in preparing a 27-course feast. I have pen and paper available, everyone records what they’re thankful for, and drops their entry (or six) in our Thankful Box. After dinner, we pass the box around the table, fish out a slip of paper, read it, and try to guess who wrote it. Like magic, it holds us together a little longer, usually with a lot of laugther. I’ve tried a similar practice at Christmas dinner, though with a slight twist.

The kitchen seems to be a hub for cherished traditions, and not just limited to the table. While I love cooking in general and baking in particular, my famous little hand-pressed butter mints are a favorite to make and give as surcies. Using a recipe passed down to me by my mother-in-love (shared below), since you press out each mint by hand, it’s most fun to enlist my daughter or friends to help. 

Hand-pressed-Butter-MintsI love learning about the traditions others celebrate during the holidays. I imagine readers of GraceTable feel much the same way. And lest you think you don’t really have traditions, I promise you do–maybe it’s a recipe handed down for generations or one you created and *have* to make every year; maybe it’s a blessing prayed over your family by the oldest member at the table; the table cloth or dishes reserved for family occasions, shopping on Black Friday, picking up a tree as soon as the turkey’s all gone.

Sometimes new ideas breathe fresh life into gatherings, and help us incorporate new traditions. With Thanksgiving in just days, tell us about your special traditions in comments? It might be the very idea another reader has been searching for!  And to one lucky commenter, I’m going to send some of Noni’s Butter Mints as a little surcie from me to you. Trust me, a comment is small price to pay for these magical little treats!

 

Noni's Hand-pressed Butter Mints
Yields 100
A special little hostess gift or takeaway for your guests. Be careful…they're addictive!
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
1 hr
Prep Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 Box 10X Confectioner's Sugar
  2. 3/4 Stick of Margarine (NOT butter!)
  3. 2-3 Tablespoons Evaporated Milk
  4. 8-9 Drops Peppermint Oil (NOT extract!)
  5. Food Coloring, if desired
Instructions
  1. Mix it all together and make a stiff dough (similar to dry Play Doh).
  2. Pinch off enough mint dough to fill mold. Invert and press out onto waxed paper.
  3. Allow 24 hours to air dry (but you can sneak a bite whenever you want.)
Notes
  1. Peppermint Oil can be found at candy shops or compounding pharmacies; extract will not produce the same results! If you can't find a local source for butter mint molds (you MUST use flexible, rubber/silicone molds, not plastic ones), I have some links on my original post: http://robindance.me/2007/11/handpressed-buttermints.html
Adapted from Noni's Kitchen
Adapted from Noni's Kitchen
Grace Table http://gracetable.org/

 

Robin Dance / Posts / Blog
Southern as sugar-shocked tea and in a scandalous affair with her college sweetheart, Robin is mom to two in college with the third almost there. She believes the kitchen table is a sacred alter, first classroom, and safe refuge, where the currency is spoken in love and good food. She hates "cooking close" and shoe shopping (gasp!), loves snail mail and surcies, and finds holy communion where sand meets surf. She's also rumored to make the best apple pie in the world. In addition to writing at robindance.me, you'll find her at The Art of Simple, {in}courage and Deeper Story.
  • Lori Harris
    http://loriharris.me/

    This post made me smile. You used the word surcie and I love that word,Robin!

    It is home altar and first classroom, where we learn to serve and be served.- most favorite line.

    {so grateful you’re a part of this community!}

    November 24th, 2014 12:16
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    • Robin Dance
      http://www.pensieve.me/

      Lori!!! I’M GIDDING! It’s like we’re writing sistahs :). And I’m crushing on you more (as if that were possible)–surcie is a wonderful, magical word (and idea) AND you nailed one of my favorite lessons :). Thank you for reading and being my first commentor in this special place. xo

      November 24th, 2014 13:13
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  • ro elliott
    http://tuningmyhearttopraise.blogspot.com/

    My mom, who is 90, has hosted Thanksgiving up until last year… through my 33 yrs of marriage, I had never cooked a turkey or hosted Thanksgiving. Last year it was a wonderful… daunting feeling… having the full responsibility now . More than preparing all the food and me channelling all things Pioneer Woman… it was the passing of the torch… the mantle … to become “matriarch” of the family. So everyone one will be here again… 3 married children… 2 singles.. and 3 grands (well one is still baking 🙂 my parents and I believe a few friend of the kids are coming. So now it is time to start my own traditions… I like your idea Robin, and I will check back and see if other’s share some as well. And I do want to be about “surcing” this season!!!

    November 24th, 2014 13:43
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    • Robin Dance
      http://www.pensieve.me/

      What a legacy from your mom to have passed on to you. I just know you’re going to continue her tradition in a way that impacts your family. And you verbbed Surcie! J’adore!! 🙂

      November 24th, 2014 16:46
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  • kristifromnc

    I’m you going to share one of our birthday traditions…whenever it is one of our five kid’s birthdays (or my husband or myself), we go around and say something that with which we are thankful for that person. I LOVE that you do surcies also! My mom gave surcies to us and now I give surcies to my husband and kids :).

    November 24th, 2014 13:57
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    • Robin Dance
      http://www.pensieve.me/

      Kristi,

      What a positive encouragement for ALL of you; great idea. We need to hear those grace-filled messages–NEED to. And…from one Surcie-sistah to another–ROCK ON! (I love it when people already know the word/concept. Such a fun practice :). )

      November 24th, 2014 22:20
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  • Beth
    http://withlove-simplybeth.blogspot.com/

    A tradition of mine personally has become making my grandma’s buttermilk biscuits. I do not cook or bake much (my husband is the cook of the family) but I love how this recipe of my grandma’s has been passed down and that I can be a part of continuing to share it with family and friends.
    Btw, I am so loving this beautiful community here.
    Happy Thanksgiving.
    xoxo

    November 24th, 2014 14:05
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    • Robin Dance
      http://www.pensieve.me/

      Beth, I don’t suppose you’d share her recipe? Why do biscuits intimidate me?? I AM a baker/cook and yet I don’t do them often (and usually with Bisquick–gasp!). That it’s been handed down makes it even more yummy.

      SO delightful to hear you’re enjoying Grace Table :). That makes all of us happy!!

      And, yes–Happy Thanksgiving to YOU!

      November 24th, 2014 22:22
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      • Beth
        http://withlove-simplybeth.blogspot.com/

        Happy to share the recipe.

        Grandma Thomson’s Biscuits <3

        4 cups of flour
        6 teaspoons of baking power
        1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
        salt
        1/4-1/3 cup sugar
        10 tablespoons butter
        2 cups of buttermilk

        Combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter. Add buttermilk about 1/2 cup at a time, mixing it into one portion of the flour and pushing to one side. When mixture is a dough like consistency (you may not use all of the buttermilk) put dough on floured surface and roll out to a thickness of about 3/4 to one inch. Use a small glass to cut out biscuits and place on a cookie sheet.

        Bake at 425 degrees until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. (Because the ones on the edge often bake the quickest, I often remove those when they are done and continue baking the rest.)

        If you double the recipe it makes approximately 48 biscuits.

        They are super yummy when eaten right out of the oven with butter and honey!!

        I have such great memories of my grandma making these biscuits! And they really are super easy to make. 🙂

        Many blessings.

        November 25th, 2014 12:38
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        • Robin Dance
          http://www.pensieve.me/

          THANK you, Beth! Have you ever made them with buttermilk you “made” yourself? I never buy it so when a recipe calls for it, I add lemon juice to warmed milk. (Of course, if you’re using 2 cups, it’s worth it to buy the buttermilk.)

          November 25th, 2014 13:16
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  • Joy B. Rudolph
    http://joybrudolph.com/

    I love watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade while cooking. But my own unique tradition is eating Nana’s leftover green jello salad (it sounds gross and it’s not really a salad but trust me on this one) for breakfast the day after Thanksgiving. I think I look forward to that more than the big meal.

    November 24th, 2014 14:12
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    • Robin Dance
      http://www.pensieve.me/

      Joy,

      I wonder if it’s the one I’ve seen…but never tasted. To hear you anticipate it so greatly makes me wildly curious :). I like having the Macy’s TG Parade on, too. I might not watch-watch it, but I love seeing it there….

      November 24th, 2014 22:23
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      • Joy B. Rudolph
        http://joybrudolph.com/

        Robin,

        It’s served in slices so certainly not a real salad. I would be happy to send you the recipe if you’re interested. It’s one of those things that sounds weird and tastes amazing 🙂

        November 25th, 2014 18:10
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  • Bri McKoy
    http://oursavorylife.com

    I just loved this post, Robin. And how you talk about magic! So grateful for your heart!

    November 24th, 2014 14:50
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    • Robin Dance
      http://www.pensieve.me/

      Bri!!! How fun is it to see you “here” :). YOU are FULL of magical qualities–light, joy, encouragement. Those, my sweet friend, are pure God gifts. xo

      November 24th, 2014 22:24
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  • Karrilee Aggett

    Oh we are! We are the same, you and I! (Even down to the Thankful Box, and passing it around to guess who wrote what!) LOVE love love this, my friend!!!

    November 24th, 2014 17:15
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    • Robin Dance
      http://www.pensieve.me/

      Well, now, Karrillee–I wish you could see my smile. It’s a big one :D. I might not be original, but I am intentional…that’s something–right? 🙂

      November 24th, 2014 22:24
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  • Monique

    Excellent Post Robin! Your post reminds us to keep our eyes and hearts open to those moments when our plates are clean, our belles full, the conversation been rich and yet no one is ready to leave the table because we know that moment we all are experiencing will disappear.

    November 24th, 2014 19:29
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    • Robin Dance
      http://www.pensieve.me/

      Oh, Monique, that is beautiful. To linger at the table is the nicest of compliments to the hosts, isn’t it? Thank you for chiming in!

      November 24th, 2014 22:25
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  • Monica

    We watch the Thanksgiving Parade together, and we eat all kinds of snacky goodies until dinner time. After that, we have dinner, and Ken prays. For the rest of the day, we eat off dinner food or have more snacky goodies, and we reflect on things we’re always grateful for. We will also host a friend or college student who couldn’t go home for Thanksgiving or doesn’t have a family.

    November 25th, 2014 0:33
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    • Robin Dance
      http://www.pensieve.me/

      Monica!! Hey lovie!! My favorite part of what you said is inviting a friend to join you. THAT is the heart of hospitality! We’ve invited a few this year but I don’t know if they’re coming….I sure hope so :).

      November 26th, 2014 0:06
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  • Monica

    By the way, loved what you wrote here! Love true hospitality. Love!

    November 25th, 2014 0:38
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  • Kris Camealy
    http://kriscamealy.com/

    Robin, I love your brand of hospitality. I want to make these little mints and have added the rubber molds to my amazon list 🙂 THANK YOU for sharing your heart!!

    November 25th, 2014 18:13
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    • Robin Dance
      http://www.pensieve.me/

      If you need a walk through, holla :). I think this is my thing now…I love to give them to people :). There are a million molds and they’re great for showers, too 🙂

      November 26th, 2014 0:04
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  • Christie Purifoy
    http://www.christiepurifoy.com/

    I love this, Robin! I especially love your idea to pass around the Thankful Box after dinner. Why have I always tried to get my kids to talk about gratitude before passing the food? Much better, I think, to fill them up and then invite them to linger.

    November 25th, 2014 21:23
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    • Robin Dance
      http://www.pensieve.me/

      Isn’t the dining room table the best place to lose track of time? 🙂

      Another cool thing to do is save each year’s answers in an envelope; how cool is it to go back and read what you wrote AGES ago? (ummm, we haven’t done this exactly, but I do have several years collected)

      November 26th, 2014 0:03
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