When you think of Christmas does your brain take you first to the real meaning, the amazing story of the second member of the trinity becoming incarnate in this fallen world?
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. (Luke 2: 1-7)
I hope I never cease to marvel at that!
But marvelous, too, are the warm memories associated with our celebrations of Christ’s birth. Aren’t our memories always wrapped in sensory delights? The feel of cold snow and warm sweaters, the sound of wrapping paper crinkling, the sight of bright lights blinking and children smiling, the taste of peppermint candy canes, and the smell of chocolate cookies baking?
I was recently asked to talk about some of my Christmas memories and celebrations. Below are my answers. Please feel freed to use the comment section to tell some of your thoughts about Christmas.
1. What is your favorite Christmas memory? Christmas 1975. I got a very special gift that Christmas! Our baby girl was born on Christmas Eve. The nurses put her in a red Christmas stocking.
2. What is your favorite Christmas dessert? Pecan pie, of course. Even if we just had it for Thanksgiving.
3. What is your all-time favorite Christmas book? Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. duh
4. What is your all-time favorite Christmas movie? Elf
5. It’s a snowy winter afternoon. Which do you reach for? Hot cocoa, tea, or coffee? Hot cocoa with marshmallows. As an adult, I have more discriminating taste buds and prefer the wonderfulness of dark chocolate Ghirardelli cocoa.
6. What is your favorite thing to do when it snows? Settle in with a warm sweater and a good book. Back on the farm I didn’t have that luxury. The work didn’t stop just because it snowed. For my husband and the other men who had to feed animals and keep water troughs thawed, the work was brutal. On several occasions we’d get snowed in for two or three days or even longer and only the tractors could make it over the fields out to the road.
7. This reminds me of my scariest Christmas memory. One December I had a houseful of 2nd graders there for our daughter’s Christmas Eve birthday party. As soon as the children got there, it started snowing. At first we were delighted. But the snow got heavier and heavier and very quickly the roads closed. My little party-goers got very worried that Santa wouldn’t know where to bring their presents! I was worried about how I would explain. Fortunately, our employee Dan had a snow mobile and ferried all the kids out to the main road to meet their anxious parents. Whew! Christmas was saved!
8. What is your favorite Christmas candy? Fudge. When I was young my dad took on the task of making fudge. He would set us kids to cracking black walnuts in the basement. It took forever to get enough, but at last we would take our harvest up to the kitchen. Daddy made the fudge in Mom’s big cast iron skillet, and it tasted divine! Other times he made peanut brittle and once he made salt water taffy.
9. What is a traditional food your family has every Christmas? The extended Heal family cannot celebrate Christmas (and Thanksgiving) without “Pink Fluffy Stuff,” a concoction of jello, cream cheese, and marshmallows some members of the family call a “salad.”
10. What is a favorite Christmas gift you remember receiving as a child? An EasyBake Oven. I still remember the taste and smell of the gingerbread I made in it.
11. What’s your favorite Christmas cookie?
On the way to find my stained recipe card for my favorite Christmas cookie, I had a deep thought: Why does “cookie” end in “ie” instead of a “y”? Grammatically, it should be “y” for the singular form and then you change the “y” to “ie” and add an “s” for the plural.
Well, I think I have just stumbled upon the answer to this profound question. Cookies are supposed to be eaten in multiples! So never commit the faux pas of eating just one. That would plainly be wrong. (I don’t know what this says about my nickname. My mom spelled it “Debby” but I changed it in junior high to the more popular “Debbie,” not realizing I was breaking a grammar rule.) But, I digress. Here’s the recipe for my favorite Christmas cookie:
Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cookies
Mix 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp baking powder, and 1/4 tsp baking soda. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture to form a dough.
In a saucepan, combine 6 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1/2 cup Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk. Heat, stirring, until chocolate is melted. Stir in 4 tsp of maraschino cherry juice. (Add a little more if it seems too thick.)
Shape the dough in 1-inch balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Use your thumb to press down the center of each ball and place a drained maraschino cherry in it. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the chocolate sauce over the cherry, spreading to cover. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Cool on rack. Makes 48 cookies (unless you filch the dough).
It would be so nice of you to share!