Monthly Archives: December 2012

Let the Stable…

Let the Stable Still Astonish

Let the stable still astonish:
Straw – dirt floor, dull eyes,
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen:
Crumbling, crooked walls:
No bed to carry that pain,
And then the child,
Re-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough.

Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said: “Yes,
Let the Lord God of all the heavens and earth
Be born here, in this place?”

Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker fouler rooms
of our hearts
and says, “Yes,
let the God of Heaven and Earth
be born there –
in this place.”

Leslie Leyland Fields

May that baby in a manger be born in your hearts this Christmas.

Merry Christmas dear friends.

Merry Christmas, Grandpa

As I was writing Christmas letters this week, I came to Grandpa and Grandma’s address. After a moment of sadness that Grandma was gone and wouldn’t read it this year – I thought of Grandpa.

He’s spending his first Christmas alone without Grandma in over 60 years. I wish I was closer so I could spend some time with him. I wish I could bring him home with me for a few hours on Christmas Day.

But most of all – I wish he remembered me.

Alzheimer’s is cruel.

But if Christmas wishes did come true – and I could give Grandpa a hug in person and have his eyes light up in recognition, this is what I would tell him…

Hey Grandpa!

It’s me, Melinda. I’m one of Shirley’s girls. Remember me? I’m the one who drove the car into the side of your granary.

I just wanted to say thank you for making Christmas at your house so wonderful.

From the moment we drove in, you made me feel loved.

You remembered how scared I was of dogs so you tied him up before I got there. You didn’t want me to be afraid to get out of the car. Poor Smoke – he wouldn’t hurt a flea, but you wanted me to feel safe.

You were the one to open the door – standing in the cold Iowa winter to greet us. “Merry Christmas! Come on in! Did Santa come last night?”

A tickle, a tease, a hug and we were swept inside.

That old farmhouse was warm and full of noise and activity. Aunts and uncles and cousins filled the table in the dining room and spilled out into the living room. And there you were – larger than life in, the middle of everything, teasing,  laughing, loving us.

Christmas at Grandpa's

When the meal was over – you took your self-appointed place at the kitchen sink and washed the dishes.

Every dish. And with a smile on your face.

When we were really young, it seemed like dishes took forever and kept us waiting to open presents. It wasn’t until I was older that I began to understand that the act of washing dishes was a present – a sweet and priceless gift you gave Grandma every Christmas. And I loved you even more for it.

I can still see you standing by that sink, Grandpa, wearing your good bib overalls with the sleeves of your shirt rolled up, your hands deep in the soapy water.

A picture of love. Commitment. Sacrifice.

I remember your small living room being literally covered with family members. All sitting around your tiny silver metallic tree, dwarfed by all the gifts.

You and grandma sat side by side as you announced, “We need to pass out some presents!”

I looked forward to opening your gift every year, Grandpa. I know you picked it out – Grandma always told us. The two of you would go to Dralle’s Department Store in Greene and you bought us clothes – real store bought clothes. For kids whose mom made all their clothes – from swimsuits to snow pants – your gift was such a treat! And you have such good taste!

My all-time favorite was the rainbow striped sweater. It was a sad day when I outgrew it.

You really knew how to give gifts, Grandpa. I think that’s because you have such a big heart.

Christmas presentsI miss you Grandpa.

I thought of you when I took our Sunday School kids to the nursing home to perform our Christmas Program. I hoped there were kids at your nursing home who sang for you.

When the singing was over and I walked around the room greeting the residents, I missed you.

As I looked in their eyes, took their hands and said “Merry Christmas”, I prayed that there was someone holding your hand this Christmas.

Someone looking in your eyes and saying “Merry Christmas”.

Someone to make you feel special.

And loved.

The way you made us feel – every year.

I love you Grandpa.

Merry Christmas.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

SnowingWe did it!

The children performed our Christmas Program to a packed house last night – and did a great job!

With a quick rehearsal after church on Sunday morning, and the excitement of the performance – it was a busy day!

By the time we had taken down the set, eaten the last cookie and drove home, it was half-past too late.

Needless to say , we’re not moving very fast around here.  I’m sitting around in my jammies watching the lights blink on the Christmas tree while listening to Christmas music.

I really should think about getting dressed – but I might need a mug of hot chocolate first.  With whipped cream and sprinkles, of course.

But just in case you have energy today  – here’s our newest favorite Christmas cookie recipe!

Can you believe I’ve lived this long without knowing that a chocolate sugar cookie exists? Oh – what I have missed! These are really yummy!

The dough was a little sticky to work with – so keep it cold.  But the finished product held it’s shape beautifully and looked fabulous sprinkled with powdered sugar on a cookie tray!

Chocolate Sugar Cookies
recipe from Annie’s Eats

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and salt. set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add in the egg and vanilla.

With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated and no streaks remain.  Form the dough into a disc, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 1-2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325? F.  Grease a baking sheet or line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

On a work surface dusted with cocoa powder, roll the dough out to about ¼-inch thickness.  Cut out desired shapes with cookie cutters and place cut outs on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake 10-12 minutes, just until set.  Let cool on the baking sheet about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

You can decorate these all fancy – or you can just sprinkle them with powdered sugar.

I used mini cookie cutters and cut the baking time to about 8 minutes.

The dough doesn’t make very much – you may need to double or triple depending on many samples you eat!

Enjoy!

Dip Da Dip Da Dip…

Let the dipping commence. truffle middles

 And with the dipping – the sound of Christmas music…

And laughter.

Peanut Butter Balls, Oreo Truffles, Cookie Dough Truffles, Mint Truffles.

Each recipe a piece of our family traditions.

Each bite a taste of Christmas.

None perfect. But like the rest of our celebration – homemade and beloved.

 

Ready for Opening Night!

Sunday night is the big night.

After weeks of rehearsals – hours of sewing and singing and writing – the Children’s Christmas Program is really coming together.

And as it came together – we all saw both in the story we tell on stage, and more importantly in real life – that God always provides.

Christmas Program 2012He provided costumes – many of them free.

All the girls have jumpers, blouses, and great big hair ribbons.

All the boys have knickers, sweater vests, argyle socks and hats.

Everybody has black shoes.

McTavishOur smooth talking salesman has a loud checkered coat, super sized bow tie, bowler hat and cane.

stage

God provided everything we needed on stage – including a front porch complete with screen door, window and a rocking chair.

He provided all the props – the quilts, the wagons,  even the horse.

piggies in tutusHe provided some adorable piggies with appropriate noses, pig ears, and pretty pink tutus. Piglets just look prettier in a tutu!

Now – after taking the kids on the road for a dress rehearsal at the local nursing home – we’re ready for the big night.

It’s always a little sad when it’s all over.  I really love working with the kids – and this has been such a fun program!

Soon this Christmas program will be just a memory – but I hope and pray that the kids remember the lessons learned in the program – that God always provides.