“Christmas Memories” by Vicki MacNutt Pate

Vicki MacNutt Pate grew up in Truro, NS and was a local performer 'round these parts before moving to the USA.  Still stateside she's a member of the Vicki MacNutt PateGospel Trio Sacrifice of Praise.

She hangs her hat in Milwaukee these days, but her home will always be in Nova Scotia.  We're grateful that she's sharing her "Christmas Memories" with us and this tasty recipe too.

Thanks so much Vicki - you're right sweet!

Our best holiday wishes to you and yours. Hope to see you home again before too long!!! SABS

Christmas Eve. Still my most favorite day of the year. The anticipation, the excitement! As a child growing up in Truro, Nova Scotia, Christmas Eve was the glorious culmination of all the preparations of the Christmas season. The house and tree were lit, the school concerts and piano recitals were over, many varieties of cookies and squares had been lovingly baked and decorated, a big box of Moir’s chocolates were hidden under Dad’s side of the bed (every year) in hopes that we kids wouldn’t get into them before Christmas (we did). We had the once-a-year presentation of grapes and tangerines in the fruit bowl and Scotsburn Eggnog in the fridge.

Christmas Memories by Vicki MacNutt Pate Mum worked so hard to make sure she had all the special Christmas foods prepared: Auntie Alma squares, mincemeat pies, Cheese and Olive Spread (still my favorite) and so much more. And on Christmas Eve, her perfect seafood chowder would be simmering on the stove, waiting for the biscuits to cool so that we could enjoy it together before heading off to church.

Sometimes we had an early service, which the adults preferred so that we could relax afterwards and enjoy our tradition of gathering at my brother Al’s house to play games, savour special foods that were only prepared at Christmas, open just one present and laugh until the wee hours. But I always loved the late service. As a child, there was something just so magical about being out and about that late at night. Driving around, fascinated by the big, colorful Christmas bulbs casting a soft glow onto the midnight snow. The smell of the evergreens that decorated the stained glass windows. The search for the ornament that I had made in Sunday School hanging on the big spruce tree inside the sanctuary. Even now, as I reflect on those nights, I remember feeling a stillness inside as I listened with wonder to the story of Jesus’ birth, a contentment surrounding me as I sang the familiar Christmas Carols and a soothing sense of belonging; encircled by my loving family and our traditions that provided such happiness and joy.

Christmas Memories by Vicki MacNutt Pate Coming home afterwards, Santa’s lunch would be prepared: a few of Mum’s delicious shortbread cookies (my brother John always snitched one) or a piece of fruitcake and a can of Schooner beer placed carefully on the hearth. Tucked in cozy and kissed goodnight, with reflections of the warm glow of Christmas lights in my bedroom window, I would drift off, anticipating all that Christmas morning would bring- just 3 hours later! - when my sister Bev would make sure we were the first ones up on our street, singing, “Santa came, Santa came!!”

Were it not for glancing at old photographs, I now realize I don’t remember any of the gifts that I unwrapped and undoubtedly loved. I don’t recall what presents I gave to others either. But I will never forget how those Christmases at home made me feel. What it felt like to belong to a family with traditions that centered on faith, and food and fun.

I now live in the US, married with a teenage son. Although we do not have any family in this country, my Nova Scotian roots are deep. And although this time of year brings about a homesickness all of its own, our beloved family Christmas traditions are alive and well. And the Auntie Alma Squares are cooling as we speak 🙂

8 Tbs sugar

4 Tbs cocoa

2 well beaten eggs

1/2 cup butter

30 broken arrowroot cookies (here in the US I have to use animal crackers!)

Combine the first four ingredients in a saucepan (or in a bowl in the microwave) until medium thick. Add broken arrowroot cookies and mix together well.

Press this mixture into a greased 8X8 pan.

When cool, top with a thick layer of maple flavoured icing.

Cut into squares and serve. Keep in the fridge.

Sacrifice of PraiseYou can follow Vicki on Twitter like we do @VicPate

And find her Gospel Group Sacrifice of Praise on their website

www.sacrificeofpraiseonline.com and on Facebook by clicking here



  1. Vick - it warms my heart to read your story ... I can so relate to your childhood excitement with family around and the anticipation of Santa's arrival. Nice story.
    PS Saw your dad today - he knew me right away and wanted a hug! Such a gracious gentleman.
    Merry christmas to you and your family.

    Comment by Carolyn Hunt — December 19, 2012 @ 10:08 pm

  2. Vicki, what a beautiful story. Our memories are so precious, I think I will follow your lead and write some of mine down as well. Aunt Alma' s squares sound delicious- but I think I need the recipe for the frosting too. I am not a very accomplished baker, so don't have directions for maple icing rattling around in my brain. I do however have my " Gommy's" cookbooks. Most handwritten in spiral binders, so of course you never know what you will find on any given page. Which I guess is half the fun.

    Comment by Moira Donovan — December 20, 2012 @ 12:53 am

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