The resident chef put us to work and we spent all yesterday baking. We started with Candy Cane Cookies. These ones are the baking tradition from my childhood. We sampled and then plated up the rest and drove them down to the local hospice house. Its important to us for our kids to remember other years and the care we felt when people loved us.
We walked into the family room at the hospice house. A man was sitting huddled up to the far wall. I quietly asked if he’d like a Christmas cookie. He said no. The girls unwrapped the plate while he watched. He asked if they were homemade. I smiled and said yes and walked the plate over. He took a cookie and said “ok. I’ll have a candy cane cookie”. He bit in. As we walked out, he shouted “these are delicious”. Christmas cookies don’t solve the world's problems. But they can serve as a reminder that joy exists.
We also made Gingerbread cake. It’s made with dark molasses, lemon zest and crystalized ginger. Marscapone frosting. This cake is a serious declaration of war on mediocrity.
We made Cinnamon rolls. I love how our arms intertwine as we cut the rolls. It takes some coordination. 24 years making rolls together and we've got the rhythm down.
Cherry pie. Hand rolled pie crust. The instructions stated if you add too much water it will not look pretty. The key was to stop adding water when its a shaggy mass. This piece of advice is good for other areas of life as well.
I cleaned my sewing room and set up the blow up bed. Cleaning the sewing room enough to fit in a bed is a Christmas miracle all by itself. The first year I put my parents on this blow up bed they froze. I've added extra layers over the years. I rolled out quilts. Some are treasures from family. My great grandmother made one as a wedding present for my parents. Some of the quilts are estate sale scores. I buy every quilt I find at estate sales. I can't hack the hours of work and love poured in from some random persons' relative. So the quilts stack up and join my family heirlooms.
I watched my kids open their advent calendar. Only one more door remains. I don't want to miss out on a single second. Squeeze out every ginger infused and cinnamon scented flavor. I want to slow the time.
There's also an overwhelming awareness of blessings and grace. We went to dinner last week with my family. I sat next to my husband and across from my father. My dad paused. He looked down the table at his family and grinned at his wife. Looked at me and said "I just can't wait until Christmas".
Christmas makes me cry. Its the combination of the desire to slow down time and the I can't wait excitement. The tension between the two overwhelms me sometimes. You remember the wistful wishing from childhood? Its grown up into a homesickness for heaven. Imagine the Christmas's there. All the loved ones at the table. No empty chairs. And the guest of honor - the baby himself.
I have spent the last week battling the flu. A couple of days ago I headed to bed early and took my girls with me. My little one said her tummy hurt. A few hours later my husband came and picked up our five year old to carry her to bed. I heard him holler from the stairwell. I made it to his side just in time to watch her puke all over his face. She had already drenched his arms and legs. I was so impressed as he calmly patted her and told her it was ok. The gentleness of a father was a perfect picture of Christmas.
That first Christmas included some pain. A Loss of reputation for the newlyweds. Exhausting trip, no room at the inn, childbirth. And Jesus? He set aside all the glory of his title and joined us. O holy night. Mary pondered these things in her heart. I think this is where my tears come from. It's when the bows and baking settle and I ponder.Jesus left perfect to join our mess. Christmas isn’t perfect. It is holy.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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