"I think I'm going to give your brother the Tom and Jerry bowl for Christmas," my mother announced a few weeks back. "He has always wanted it."
"That's because he always thought it was about the cartoon," I told her.
I admit, I was momentarily jealous.
I love my brother, but I am quite certain that he has never set foot in an antique store.
His sentimentality is reserved for sports teams and his knowledge of "Tom and Jerry," I'm sure, begins and ends with the cartoon cat and mouse.
He was Mom's choice for bequeathing the bowl? Really?
Many years ago, my father's aunt left my mother her antique china closet and all its contents.
The cabinet was a source of fascination for my siblings and me while growing up.
It's filled with fancy French china, Depression glass and a variety of other bowls, platters and goblets that are looked at often but rarely used. The collection includes a classic Tom and Jerry bowl -- ivory-colored with gold trim and lettering.
The sets were popular in the 1940s and 50s for serving the eggnog-like Christmas cocktail, which originated in the 1800s.
I have my own Tom and Jerry bowl, so I really don't need another, but I don't have that Tom and Jerry bowl -- the family heirloom.
As Mom approaches her 80th birthday, she seems to be talking a lot more about paring down, giving stuff away and living life a little less encumbered by the "things" of this world.
During a recent visit to my parents' house, I noticed the Tom and Jerry bowl in the china closet.
"I thought you were giving that away?" I said.
"That china cupboard is so old," Mom explained, "I was afraid if I started moving things around that shelves might get unbalanced and give way."
Her answer made me smile. Perhaps I still had a shot at having that Tom and Jerry bowl in my own china cupboard someday.
As I flurry from store to store, searching for the right gift for everyone this holiday season, my mom's thoughts about lessening our store of possessions keep coming to mind.
The advice seems wise, particularly at this time of year, when society becomes so focused on acquiring more.
My Christmas wish for all of you is a life unencumbered by the "things" of this world.
May you have peace in your families (even with the siblings who don't know the value of a fine antique) and time to enjoy a little holiday cheer with them, too.
And here's just the right recipe for celebrating.
TOM AND JERRY
Makes 12 cocktails
For the batter:
6 eggs, separated
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons vanilla extract
4 ounces brandy
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
For each drink:
6 ounces milk, whole or 2 percent
1 ounce dark rum 1 ounce brandy
To prepare the batter: Separate the eggs. Beat the whites until they form soft peaks, add 1/2 cup sugar and beat until peaks are stiff.
In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks until very thin. Add sugar, vanilla, brandy and spices and continue to beat until sugar dissolves and mixture is thin and well-combined.
Fold the whites into the yolks and mix well until the mixture forms a thick batter.
When ready to serve, stir the mixture well.
In a small saucepan, bring milk to boil.
In a 10-ounce mug, pour 2 ounces of batter. Add 1 ounce rum and 1 ounce brandy. Fill with 6 ounces boiling milk, stirring briskly with a small whisk while adding, so batter and milk are well-mixed. Dust with nutmeg.
Editor's note: Because the batter contains raw eggs, keep refrigerated until ready to use. Discard any batter not used the same day it is made. For added safety, use pasteurized eggs for this recipe.
PER SERVING: Nutritional values could not be calculated for this recipe.
-- Lisa Abraham writes about food for The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @DispatchKitchen.