Every Christmas Eve my parents, my five younger sisters, my grandparents and I get together and driven across the river to Schimpff's Confectionery in Jeffersonville. Schimpff's is one of the oldest candy-making businesses in the country, started in its current location in 1891. Schimpff's remains a family owned business, and my family loves to patronize it around the holidays in particular.
Schimpff's Confectionery has a deli, a candy museum with bunches of old time candy and memorabilia, a candy demonstration area where you can watch the confectioners make ribbon candy, red hots, and all manner of other sweet nothings, and a family history a yard long. They are known for their red hots especially, made with real cinnamon oil sprinkled through the candy so some pieces are fiery delightfulness and others are much milder.
Last Christmas I stood beside my Granny and watched the candy makers make dozens and dozens of perfect, shining red hots. I keep trying to think of a poetic way to say it but there is not one; I loved my Granny so dearly, and this Christmas will be the first Christmas without her. I know we will still make it sweet and sticky with love, old fashioned with memories, full of sugar. I know there will be my sisters' fingers reaching into a white paper bag for a cream drop, or a heart shaped red hot and my dad hiding the horehound drops from us so he can snarf them all up himself. I know my family will rally together and fortify our love for each other with gifts of chocolate and peppermint and toffee.
To me, the trip to Schimpff's means it's really Christmastime, and really time for my family. Knowing that the Schimpff family has worked so hard and succeeded so well in keeping this business alive does my heart good, as does our family visit every year.
Photo: Elizabeth Orrick