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Christmas with the In-Laws by Constance Gillam


 My mother-in-law was a child of the Depression and lived in Detroit. She became the mother of the house at fifteen when her mother died leaving behind twelve children the youngest being three months old. 

Living during the Depression wasn’t a piece of cake for a majority of the American population. Now throw in the mix being a black male, widowed with twelve children and no skills. Her father worked two jobs, one being in a slaughtered house. He would salvage anything left on the slaughter house floor to take home.

 My in laws lived six hours from my home. I’d never spent Christmas with them until my husband and I’d been married three months. I learned quickly Christmas was a major production in their family.

There was always a nine foot live Christmas tree, ten different varieties of cookies, five different pies and cakes (including a fruit cake my MIL had baked and soaked three months earlier), fresh fruit, nuts, candy galore, turkey, ham, barbequed ribs, greens, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, potato salad, macroni and cheese, baked beans, cream corn, green beans, corn bread dressing, home made rolls and fruit punch. All of this she made herself with help only for spooning the cookies on cookie sheets.

Needless to say, I was overhelmed (and stuffed).

I’m going to share one of her cookie receipes with you. (Forgive me, Mom) This is a slightly modified version of her original receipe.

Chocolate Chewies

6 oz. of semi sweet chocolate (she used unsweetened chocolate)

2 cups of crushed graham crackers

1/2 c. of chopped walnuts

1-can of Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk

Heat oven to 350

Melt chocolate in large sauce pan on stovetop

Remove from heat and stir in milk, crackers and nuts.

Refrigerator 1hr or overnight.

Spoon 1 tsp of dough onto a non stick cookie sheet.

Bake 8-10 minutes. Cool


Happy Holidays!

Marilyn Baron - December 25, 2013 - 12:51 am

What a wonderful story and thanks for the cookie recipe.

Carol Burnside - December 26, 2013 - 12:50 am

I agree with Marily. Great story and yummy recipe.

Hope you had a lovely Christmas with your family.

Hildie McQueen - December 27, 2013 - 3:08 pm

Thanks for sharing Constance, not just the story, but a peep into your family’s background. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Sandra Elzie - December 27, 2013 - 6:20 pm

Hi Connie,
I printed out the recipe and I’m adding it to my recipe box. The next time I need to make cookies, this is going to be the one I’ll try. It sounds yummy.

My childhood holds a lot of family time…the meals. Each of my grandparent’s kids did their own Christmas morning Santa/gift thing and then everyone went to G ma & G pa’s house to eat. What a crowd! Oh, and a few weeks before, all the women met at Grandma’s house to make all the fruitcakes. Fun times.

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