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Gross Point Blank

Sadly, I won't go stir crazy this holiday season

Do you have holiday traditions that warm the cockles of your heart? There are some things that roll around the same time every year you grow fond of, maybe not the actual doing, but still something with which to look forward.

Case in point: stirring marathons at my best friend's house while she makes Christmas candy.

Maryann inherited her mother-in-law's cookbook, filled with complicated, old-fashioned and divine candy recipes. English almond toffee, cocunut chocolate rounds, peanut butter balls and very, very hard-to-make caramel.

I trekked to her house this past Saturday and plopped down on the couch. She wasn't in the kitchen, toiling away, which is where I expected to find her. "Why aren't you making candy?" I asked.

"I'm not going to this year," she responded.

Me and her 15-year-old daughter looked at each other in shock, exchanged gasps, and promptly began our passionate protest.

"Mom! You have to!" said Stephanie. "Oh my God, how could you not?!" I proclaimed.

But what I was really thinking is, "We have to make candy. I look forward to complaining about helping every year!"

When she makes caramel, everybody and their mother and cousin and sibling goes to Maryann's house and stirs in 15-minute shifts.

Using the old fashioned recipe, it takes hours and hours to stir.

When you stand there stirring the caramel, it feels like the longest 15 minutes of your life. The only thing that asuages the mindless task is Corona Light with a wedge of lime. Except for the kids who stir. For them, it's 15-minutes of endless whining.

Not this year. And I think I'm kind of sad about it.

No beer and stirring parties this year. And no Christmas candy.

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