day eight :: guest post :: a hunka hunk of burnin’ christmas love
Today’s hilarious post is from another wonderful friend.
Mely Goodman is a little wife attempting to maneuver the earth with grace while regularly tripping over two left feet. She delights in beauty, particularly in music and the innocence of children, but also in coffee and sarcasm and dancing and birthdays and pretty-sounding words and decorating stuff and old things. Lately, she has found truest joy in motherhood. You can find her rather scattered thoughts at melygoodman.com
She and her husband are navigating life and parenthood with a hilarious soundtrack that makes me jealous. As reference, see their adorably creative pregnancy announcement video here. I want my own life soundtrack. Anyway, enjoy her festive, fiery tale and flamin’ good recipe.
Atomic Fireball (Cupcakes)
Many family Christmastime traditions have beautiful and meaningful stories behind them. Most of our family’s traditions just slowly developed over time. The oddest of these traditions, though, is a more recent one – the tradition of Atomic Fireball Cupcakes.
Being the daughter of a former music pastor and bred into a family of talented musicians, Christmas Eve and music traditions are rather specific and religiously adhered to in our family. Until 2010, there had been lots to do on Christmas Eve, nearly always consisting of a 6 or 7 pm candlelight service that required us to be at church for a few hours before and after. At the very least, my mom, dad, and I always performed a favorite piece of ours, “Gesu Bambino” – I sang, my mom played the piano, and my dad accompanied on French horn, and there was always a whole family quintet performance of another favorite, “If You Would Hear the Angels Sing,” with Mom on piano/choosing a singing part, Sis on soprano, Yours Truly on alto, Bro on tenor, and Dad on bass. Once we got home, Sis and I always performed a very ridiculous Christmas concert for the family and any extended family who were in town for the holidays that consisted of identical choreography to what we had made up when I was about 10. Embarrassing, but tradition! (Can’t you hear our Christian rendition of Fiddler on the Roof?) Then, in truly fitting family embarrassment, but precious to us all, one parent read the birth of Jesus story from Luke 2 while the rest of us acted it out. Sis and I always traded between playing Mary and the angel because seriously, everyone wants to be Mary, and we had to keep things fair. Then, we’d open our Christmas Eve gift, which was always homemade matching pajama sets for us to wear to bed (but not until after a picture!). We’d sing Happy Birthday to Jesus as we lit the candles on the cake we made him, and we’d leave a piece and some milk for Santa. Then Sis, Bro, and I, no matter how old we were, stuffed ourselves into one bed and giggled until far too late into the night. Precious memories.
2010, though, was very different. I was engaged, so it was the final year of just our primary five. Additionally, my dad was, for the first time, no longer in charge of a Christmas Eve service, so there would be no performance of “Gesu Bambino” or “If You Would Hear.” Sis had come home from college in Pennsylvania like two days before Christmas, so we had not organized our yearly ridiculous play. We would at least do the standard classics anyway, but all other years it had been quite the planned ordeal (we made programs on our computer and printed them to the attendees, which were really only my parents and Bro every year, and there were props and costumes and lighting, etc.). It was just all kind of half-hearted this year. Instead of attending our own Christmas Eve service, we were going to drive an hour to my fiancé’s church in Decatur.
Now, we may have lived in Illinois for 8 years at the time, but our southern-bred hearts burned hatred for driving in snow with a fiery passion, and as it happened, it snowed about a zillion inches from 10 pm December 23rd until 4 pm December 24th. The church service trip just wasn’t going to happen, what with the treacherous (read: totally fine and perfectly drivable) road conditions and all.
So instead, my dad lit a warm fire under our stockings in the family room, and we sat in our respective places on the couches, wearing our new silky green homemade Christmas Eve matching pajamas, each with a laptop or other technological device, with the TV blaring A Christmas Story and the very loud dishwasher swishing. This is normal family quality time for us, although you can replace A Christmas Story with any given other television show, Nascar race, or college football game at any time.
We were laughing at the moment when, much to the mom’s dismay, the dad puts the leg lamp in the window when we heard a very loud WHOOSH and noticed that the fire was suddenly abnormally gigantic. The flames were licking out of the frame of the fireplace.
Bro: WHOA! What is happening right now?
Dad: AHHHHHHH! It’s a gas leak in the fireplace. I have no idea where to turn off the gas!
Mom: Oh dear. Maybe it’s downstairs?
Dad: Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no!
Sis: Move the stockings!!!!
Dad: (running down the stairs to the basement) AHHHHH! Oh no, oh no, oh no!!!
(As you can probably see, Dad is not the person who keeps his cool in emergency situations.)
Me: Dad, do we have a fire extinguisher?
Dad: AHHHHHHHHH! Oh no, oh no, oh no!
Mom: I think it’s hanging in the garage just outside the door.
Sis: I’ll get it.
(Bro gets out his phone and starts filming the fire. Sis returns with the fire extinguisher.)
Dad: (running up and down the stairs frantically) I CAN’T FIND WHERE TO TURN OFF THE GAS!!!!
Mom: I’ll come see if I can help. I called 9-1-1, and they are on their way.
Sis: Poor firemen, having to come out on Christmas Eve.
(Leave it to Sis to think of the poor firemen.)
Bro: Hahahaha, look at the fire, it’s so crazy!
Sis: How do you work this fire extinguisher?
Mom: Honey, it’s okay. They’ve got the fire extinguisher.
Me: When I was an RA there was a peg you pulled on it.
Sis: Oh yeah, there it goes.
(Sis sprays the fire, and it stops. We all sigh with relief. About three seconds later, we hear another loud WHOOSH.)
Bro: Hahahahahahahah, it started again!
Sis: Oh, geez.
Dad: Oh no, oh no, oh no. I HAVE TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO TURN OFF THE GAS! IT’S NEVER GOING TO STOP! IT’S A GAS LEAK! AHHHHHHHH!
(Sis sprays the fire, and it stops, but then starts again three seconds later.)
Me: Well, at least we can keep it at bay for a while until we figure out how to turn off the gas.
Mom: We should probably get out of the house just in case.
Bro: I’m filming it!!!
Dad: I’M STILL TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO TURN OFF THE GAS!
Sis: I’ll get our suitcases.
Me: SAVE THE FRENCH HORNS!
Bro: hahahahaha, look at the fire!
Sis and I went outside with our suitcases and the French horns. We finally managed to coax Bro out of the house. Dad still frantically ran up and down the stairs trying to figure out how to turn off the gas. Mom stayed inside for a while randomly outing the flames.
After what felt like three hours but was probably about 10 minutes, Dad found the switch and turned off the gas. My mom stopped the fire for the last time, and they joined us outside just as the firemen arrived. They confirmed that it was a gas leak and took out the remaining fake logs in the fire. They cleared us to go back in and wished us a Merry Christmas. We gave them cookies.
Since 2010, Christmas Eve traditions have changed, especially since I was married in 2011 and Sis was married in 2012 and this year I have a new baby who is the cutest human being to grace the earth’s presence. We still try to do the Christmas Eve church service somewhere, and we at least perform our family songs at home, and we will definitely always read the birth of Jesus from Luke 2 (my baby will be Jesus this year instead of my mom’s somewhat creepy childhood doll GiGi!), but now, we make Jesus a different kind of birthday cake. In celebration/reminiscence of the house nearly exploding on Christmas Eve 2010, we leave Santa Atomic Fireball Cupcakes in the hopes that the gas fire doesn’t explode on him as he makes his way down the chimney.
Atomic Fireball Cupcakes
A hunka hunk of burnin’ Christmas love
1/2 cup water
12 atomic fireball candies, unwrapped
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Place 12 atomic fireball candies in the water. Let soak for at least 30 minutes. (I left the candies in there until it was time to add the juice and then discarded them.)
3. In a food processor or blender, puree strawberries.
4. In a smaller bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt through a sifter and set aside.
5. In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until well blended. Reduce speed to low. Add eggs, one at a time. Mix until blended. Add vanilla extract.
6. Add the flour mixture, the strawberries, and the atomic fireball candy water (but not the actual candies) alternately until all combined. Scrape down the sides and mix well.
7. Add mixture to muffin tins.
8. Bake 25 minutes. Cool completely before adding frosting.
cinnamon-strawberry buttercream frosting
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon strawberry extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 drops red food coloring
milk as preferred
12 atomic fireball candies for décor
1. Mix sugar and cinnamon. Cream together with butter.
2. Add strawberry extract.
3. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until it reaches your desired consistency (I added two tablespoons).
4. Add food coloring and mix well. (It may work better to hand mix after you’ve added the food coloring or it will be red and streaky.
5. Decorate cupcakes with frosting and one atomic fireball candy each.