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Lakewood Woman Shares Christmas Traditions

Roxanne Hooper relaxes for a few minutes after decorating her home for Christmas. Submitted photos

Roxanne Hooper’s high-energy, determination and efficiency is enviable. The events of 2020, of which only some are COVID-19 related, have altered her Christmas plans this year.

She knew when she and her husband, Doug Hooper, had a tree and a bush removed from their Shadyside Road property earlier this year that their traditional Christmas light display would have to be downsized. Not only would there be fewer lights in their yard without them, but the large ornaments that always hung from the tree would be missing.

“I just loved them,” she said.

What she didn’t expect was not being able to hang lights from the gutter, as they had always done, because of newly installed leaf guards.

Fortunately, Mrs. Hooper can continue her tradition of delivering sweet treats to 10 friends and neighbors. A few days before Christmas, she spends the entire day making zucchini, apple and pumpkin breads. While these are baking, she whips up Peanut Butter Fudge, Sugar Walnuts and White Trash, a snack mix that is coated with white chocolate.

A thumbs-up is given by Roxanne Hooper as she mows her lawn on a zero-turn mower, one of her favorite activities. She enjoys mowing so much that she mows her neighbor's lawn and some sections of the ditches along her road.

“I do my cookies two days before Christmas Eve. I usually stay up all night on the twenty-second,” she admitted.

She decorates her house and tree from the contents of seven big totes her grandsons bring up from her basement. A Christmas stocking for each of the children and grandchildren are hung from the mantle. She still decorates her house with the wooden Christmas decorations her son’s babysitter and husband made for him when he was a child. Her tree always has red, white and green ornaments and is lit with white lights. She chuckles when she speaks about a clothes dryer ornament her daughter-in-law gave her to represent the mother-in-law’s habit of caring for laundry.

“I am very particular about doing the laundry and ironing the clothes,” she said.

Her Snowbabies collection is placed with loving care on the buffet.

Since she starts shopping for Christmas gifts in January, which enables her to take advantage of sales, she is able to have her wrapping done early. Her tradition of mailing 30-40 Christmas cards to family and friends continues this year.

“I usually send them early, but not this year.”

“My mother’s side of the family always has a luncheon at Belle-View East. Last year we had 35. This year we aren’t having it. It breaks my heart,” she said. “My mother always took care of this and when she passed away, it was me.”

Although not surprising, she lists running her zero-turn lawnmower as one of her interests.

“One week I mow diagonal, the next vertical and the next horizontal,” she confessed.

She enjoys the chore so much that she mows her 86-year old neighbor’s lawn and several feet of open ditches near her house. Another hobby is playing hand and foot card games with three girlfriends every other week. Before COVID-19, she played cribbage at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church. As an Avon representative for the last 30 years, she has met many people and made new friends.

Besides Snowbabies, which she only puts out for the Christmas season, she collects Precious Moments and Denim Days figurines. The 61 denim-clad kids dominate the shelves in her kitchen with the exception of the ones she moves to a shelf in the living room that is reserved for themed and holiday displays. She also cherishes and displays five 18-karat gold trimmed roses her husband has given her.

She dedicated 36 years to the local telephone company, where she started working two months after graduating from high school. She was hired by Jamestown Telephone Company and retired from Windstream. The positions she held over her career at the phone company have brought variety and proven interesting. She began in an operator position and eventually moved to taking the calls for repair. From there she went to assignment, where she assigned telephone numbers to new customers. After that she collected money from and cleaned pay phones and phone booths and made sure they had current directories.

“When you collect those four-by-four money boxes and put six in a case, they’re pretty heavy,” said the hardworking woman.

After working in that position, she became the utility person who drove a van, often with a trailer attached. She mowed lawns, trimmed shrubs and ran a snow blower on telephone company properties. She was responsible for changing lightbulbs, replacing damaged floor tiles, cleaning toilets and emptying garbage at the offices. She delivered mail and UPS and FedEx packages between the Fourth Street and Fluvanna Avenue offices and it was her responsibility to order supplies for the warehouse and tools for the installers.

“And if a customer needed cable, I got it off the reel,” she recalled. “I loved it!”

She has been a member of the Lakewood Moose Club for 18 years, where she has held every position possible and has received honors and attended conventions all over the United States. She assists the Women of the Moose in cooking a monthly dinner. She has a heart for the Moose’s outreach to children and senior citizens and donates to St. Jude’s Hospital and Shriners.

Doug Hooper is a retired real estate agent. The Hoopers have two children. Their daughter lives in Sinclairville with her husband and 17 and 19-year old sons and their son and his wife have a two-year old daughter and reside in Leroy.

“My three grandchildren are the apple of my eye. I love them so much.”

She tries to attend all of her grandsons’ school activities, including wrestling, football, baseball and skeet shooting. She saves her change for her granddaughter and when she goes to her house the two of them put the money in the child’s bank together. The toddler remembers and says “Nana coins” when they visit with her by way of FaceTime.

“My grandkids and my kids are my life.”

Every recipe has a story. Mrs. Hooper’s are no different. She makes the Fruit Salad for Thanksgiving and Christmas family gatherings.

“The Marshmallow Pineapple Dessert and Meatloaf were my mom, Mary Carlson’s, recipes. When I cook at the Moose, everybody likes the meatloaf.”

The White Trash recipe was given to her by a co-worker when she worked at the telephone company. Her daughter prefers pecans rather than the walnuts called for in the Sugar Walnuts recipe. The Apple Pie is sweeter than most because of the crumb topping. It is unique in that it is baked in a bag.

FRUIT SALAD

15 oz crushed pineapple, drain

15 oz can red grapefruit sections, drain and cut into smaller pieces

15 oz mandarin oranges, drain and cut

Red grapes, halved

4 apples, peeled and cut (I use Cortland)

3 bananas, peeled and cut

1/2 pkg miniature marshmallows

8 oz whipped topping

Mix canned fruits and grapes together and refrigerate overnight. Drain any access juice the next day. Fold remaining ingredients into chilled mixture and refrigerate.

CHOCOLATE LUSH

1 c flour

1 stick margarine, softened

1/2 c crushed walnuts

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

1 c confectioner’s sugar

8 oz whipped topping

2 pkgs instant chocolate pudding

3 c milk

Combine by hand flour, margarine and nuts. Pat into 13-inch by 9-inch pan. Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Set aside. Mix with hand mixer, cream cheese, sugar and 1cup whipped topping. Spread over crust. Mix pudding with milk. Spread over cream cheese layer. Top with remaining whipped topping. Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.

SANTA’S SNICKERS

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 c creamy peanut butter

1 c light brown sugar

1 c sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

3 1/2 c all-purpose flour, sifted

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1-13oz pkg miniature Snickers candy bars

Combine butter, peanut butter and sugars using a mixer on medium to low speed, until light and fluffy. Slowly add eggs and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Mix in flour, baking soda and salt. Cover and chill dough for 2-3 hours. Unwrap all candy bars. Remove dough from refrigerator. Divide into 1 T pieces and flatten. Place a candy bar in the center of each piece of dough. Form the dough into a ball around each candy bar. Place on cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper and bake at 325 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

PEPPERMINT PUDDLE COOKIES

1 1/4 c softened butter

2 c sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

2 T corn syrup

2 c flour

3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

1 pkg candy cane kisses

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar until smooth and creamy. Beat in eggs one at a time then add vanilla and corn syrup. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in separate bowl. Add to creamed mixture until well blended. If dough is sticky, add up to 1/2 cup more flour. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in sugar and put on cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until top starts to crack, about 9 minutes. Immediately press candy cane kisses point down into center of cookie. Note: You will have to push the candy kiss tips down until the chocolate starts melting to create the puddle. If still not flattened tap the tray on counter a few times.

WHITE TRASH

1 1/2 lbs white chocolate discs

3 c Cheerios

3 c Corn Chex

3 c Rice Chex

2 c pretzel sticks, broken in half

1 lb roasted peanuts

1 lb M&Ms

Mix together. Melt chocolate. Pour over mix. Spread on wax paper. Break apart when firm.

SUGAR WALNUTS

1 c sugar

1/4 c water

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

4 c walnuts or pecans

Bring sugar, water, cinnamon and salt to a mild boil. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and then walnuts. Place on wax paper until firm. Break up.

APPLE PIE BAKED IN A BAG

4-5 apples, peeled and sliced (I use Cortland.)

1 pie shell

1 c sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

5 T flour

Topping

1/2-cup brown sugar

1/2-cup flour

1-stick margarine

Mix sugar, cinnamon nutmeg & flour together. Stir in prepared apples. Put in pie shell. Sprinkle with 3 T water. Combine topping ingredients to make a crumbly mixture. Sprinkle over apples. Place pie in paper bag. Bind airtight with clothespins. Bake 2 hours at 350 degrees.

MARSHMALLOW PINEAPPLE DESSERT

20 oz crushed pineapple, drain and save juice

1/2 c butter

2 eggs

2 T flour

1/2 c sugar

1 pkg vanilla instant pudding

2 c milk

1 pkg miniature marshmallows

Heat juice. Stir in butter until melted. Beat eggs and add to juice. Mix in flour and sugar until well blended. Let cool. Prepare pudding. Add pineapple, marshmallows and pudding to first mixture. Refrigerate.

MEATLOAF

3 lb ground beef

3 eggs

2 tsp salt

2 T pepper

2 c crushed saltine crackers(1 sleeve)if not enough add bread crumbs

1 c milk

2/3 c ketchup

Onion, diced

green pepper, diced

3 T Worcestershire sauce

Combine ingredients. Put in loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours.

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