My Uncle Ted and Aunt Floy always had a gumdrop tree at Christmas time. They lived across the alley from us and my cousin Shirley was my age, so I was at their house often. The gumdrop tree sat on a side table beside the couch in their living room. It called to me. I wanted so badly to pick off a gumdrop and pop it in my mouth. BUT, my Uncle Ted, who loved children and was very often a jokester, had told me that if I touched a gumdrop, it would disappear! I longed to touch one to see it vanish into thin air, but I knew that he would know if one was missing. I didn't want to do anything to put me on his "bad side" (if he even had one!), so I carefully skirted my way around the gumdrop tree when I was in the living room. I didn't want to accidentally touch a gumdrop, or horrors, a whole branch of them. As far as I can remember, I NEVER ate a gumdrop off that tree.
When my boys were little, I bought one of those little plastic gumdrop trees just like my Uncle Ted had. I put it up every year. You can see that my boys are not afraid of making the gumdrops disappear and they never were. It didn't work on them. As soon as they were told, they ran over to see the magic! Oh, well. It still became a tradition. I even have a back-up gumdrop tree in case this one "bites the dust". (You could use a bare branch if you don't have a plastic tree.)
My mother had a cookie cookbook from Betty Crocker when I was a little girl. (As soon as a reproduction came out I ran out and bought it!) I have memories of bar cookies with gumdrops from that book. I will give the recipe here. I haven't found gumdrops that aren't "spice" drops, so I don't know if that is what she used or if gumdrops were different back then! If you use spice drops, I would pick out the licorice ones and not include them!
4 eggs, separated
2 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup candied orange slices or gumdrops, finely cut
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Heat oven to 350 degrees (F). beat egg yolks; add sugar, water, and vanilla. Blend dry ingredients; stir into egg yolk/sugar mixture. Mix in candy pieces and nuts. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold in. Spread in well-greased 9" x 13" pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cut into bars while warm. Makes about 3 dozen bars.
Until next time, have a wonderful holiday!