Print This Recipe

Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Christmas Family Story... and Judy's Red Velvet Cake!

A Christmas Tree in Every Room!

When I was growing up, each year we had at least two Bar-B-Ques, one at Thanksgiving and one at Christmas. The Bar-B-Que at Thanksgiving was on Saturday and was for all the employees and business associates of Mama and Daddy. The one at Christmas was on Christmas Eve and was for family and friends. We had about a hundred people at each. We would spend all week getting the house ready and two days getting all the food ready. Mama would take some of the guys from the shop (Central) and put them to work at the house. One year, Al Miller (a young black guy that worked at Central) told Mama, “ You've owned slaves before, Haven’t you?” It was always a busy and exciting time.

At one of the Christmas Bar-B-Ques, someone came out of the bathroom and I heard, “Oh my goodness, she even has a Christmas tree in the bathroom!” Mama had a Christmas tree in every room. The kitchen... living room... bathrooms... bedrooms... everywhere... We kids even had our own trees in our rooms. The trees ranged in size from 2 feet to 6 feet. Mama had a tree with seashell ornaments. One had dove ornaments. One had all homemade ornaments. One had all Victorian ornaments. One had all red and white ornaments. One had all Santa ornaments. She had a tree made of holly decorated with ornaments. She even decorated some of the houseplants!

Mama loved it. Holidays were another reason for parties, gifts and food with family and friends! Christmas was especially magical. Mama went all out. I remember one year Mama came home with Christmas sweatshirts. Mine read, ‘I Believe in Santa Claus.' Mama’s read, ‘I Want It All.' Charlie’s read, ‘Bah Humbug!’ Mama’s one requirement for Christmas morning presents was that you believe in Santa. Mama and I even had our picture taken with Santa.

One year when Charlie was about 6 years old, he came in and told Mama that there was no Santa Claus. She questioned him and then called everyone in the room. She said, “Listen up! Charlie has come in with the idea that there is no Santa Claus! That is not true! There is a Santa and anyone who does not believe in him...well, Santa won’t bring them presents. Is that clear? And I mean it! Clear?” Well, later Mama pulled us (except Charlie) aside and said that it didn't matter who Santa Claus was or where the presents came from. It was the love and giving of the Christ-mas season. But the presents did come and as long as we said we believed we’d get presents. It didn't matter if we were married or 50 years old, Santa would always come for us. What a concept! And she meant it. Jim and I got married (now my ex-husband) and she told him the same thing. That first Christmas, Santa brought Jim a recliner! The next year Jim told Mama at Christmas time, “I believe!”

Judy's Red Velvet Cake

There is no getting away from making this cake that Mama made famous in these parts. This is the most flavorful, moist and delicious cake I've ever made. I will say that to make this like Mama, you HAVE to follow the directions word for word... FOLD do not beat with a mixer at the end. It makes the cake dense and hard.

1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons cocoa
3 tablespoons red food coloring
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon soda
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs. Mix well. Mix cocoa and food coloring in a cup. Add to eggs and sugar. Add vanilla. Sift flour and salt. Add, alternating with buttermilk. Add soda and vinegar. Let foam and FOLD into mixture. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.


1/2 cup butter, room temp
8-ounces cream cheese, softened
1 box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Whip together until creamy. Spread on cake. Garnish with chopped pecans if desired.

If you like Red Velvet, try this Red Velvet Cheesecake! Click on the hyperlink below this picture for the recipe. A perfect blend of two wonderful desserts!


  1. I love Christmas too, and I believe in Santa. Thank you for posting this Red Velvet cake recipe. It's one of my favorites but mine's always comes out dense and dry. I'm going to try your recipe this year. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    1. Thanks! Let me know how the recipe works for you. Just remember to follow the directions especially the part about letting the vinegar and baking soda foam and FOLD it in. The less you mix and stir, the lighter and fluffier it will be. Good Luck and Merry Christmas!!!

  2. June Comer McDavittDecember 7, 2013 at 7:50 PM

    I hate to sound dumb, but do you use self rising flour, plain flour, or cake flour for the red velvet cake?

    1. All Purpose Flour or Plain Flour is what my Mama always used, so it's what I use.

  3. I love Red Velvet Cake, but even more I love your memories. Thanks for sharing your sentiments during this blessed season.

  4. Love Love Love these stories of Family and Holidays. Reminds me of what Christmas used to be for me! God Love Ya! Thank you for bringing back some very cherished memories. <3

    1. Thanks so much Laurie! It's a reminder for me too. I miss my Mama, and I wish my son could have known her and how wonderful she was... in these stories, I'm trying to let him know her as much as possible. Thanks again! Love ya bunches Lady! :-)