I love to bake and especially at Christmas time. Cookies – my family expects them and I rise to the occasion. And I make it just that. I choose my recipes, set out my racks, and turn on the carols (sometimes Rush. I know, I know!). Anyway, it’s real cozy in my kitchen on baking days. Between batches I stare out the window and think of all the little things that make life so interesting at this time of year.
Like . . .
Yesterday morning I helped decorate our church sanctuary. The Sunday school kids were in there practicing – almost done – and I wandered around trying not to intrude. Three little girls waited for siblings in a back pew. They had CYO basketball shirts on and we stuck up a conversation (our grandkids play CYO). One of them – an adorable blond – was a real chatterbox. She wanted to know all about my grandchildren who attended Ichabod Crane elementary. Names. Ages. Grades. All of great interest. When I started to move away, she left the pew and came after me with more questions. Thank God my nose was beginning to drip. I told her I had to get a tissue and beat a hasty retreat to the ladies.
Later, as we put Chrismons (Christ monograms) on the tree, several of us who are rather long in the tooth, fondly recalled the icicles that were once mandatory on any self respecting Christmas tree. The really old kind were aluminum and pressed at the manufacturers in a way that you had to sort of peel them apart to put them on the tree. After those there were some kind of clingy synthetic ones, new and improved, that would follow you out of the room if you weren’t careful. Sort of like my little girl from the pew.
We then discussed placement methods. Turns out we’d all come from the “one at a time” school (Harvard) of thought. There was unanimous consent that “icicle flingers” were of a lower order of humanity that we would never claim kin. And don’t even ask about taking them off the tree at New Year’s. That was a whole other purgatory (one at a time – draped carefully over the original cardboard – ugh).
When I was very young we were very poor. We’d migrated from upstate Minnesota to Southern California and those first years were lean. But love and excitement came from afar in the form of packages from sympathetic relatives who’d stayed behind. Those were the years when “brown paper packages tied up in string” really meant something. One year our Aunt Jean sent oddly wrapped somethings that brought out the ultra-snoop in me. It must have been a rough journey for those gifts because, to my delight, there were small tears in the wrapping. And since Mom always put them under the tree as soon as we got them, I could pick mine up and dream. Through the tear I spotted a little bit of pink and when I turned the package sideways, it gurgled. The pink moved. I was under that tree nearly every day “fixing” the tape that held it together. Turns out it was a bottle of bubble bath. Very girly and I loved it.
And then last night our not-stray-anymore cat, Agnes, found a spot under the Christmas tree, wrapped her tail around herself and settled down for a long winter’s nap. I think she likes it here and I’m so glad.
I hope you have memories and incidents like these that come to visit you in the few moments of peace you have at Christmas time. My advice is that you share them with someone over a cup of Joe and one of those cookies you just baked. Or pick one, write it out, and send it in a Christmas card to someone you know will love it.
I made gingersnaps this morning. Want one?
Image: Free Digital Photos