Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Monday, December 24, 2007

Walking Quietly

An Old Tradition

Growing up in Northeastern Wisconsin, my parents taught my sister and me to always count our blessings and remember the less fortunate. The most important blessings of all are loved ones, family, and friends. Everything else could be replaced.

Each Christmas season, our family would make dozens of cookies and distribute them the weeks leading up to Christmas Eve. We would also go caroling the week of Christmas to neighbors in the community. Usually it was with an organization such as 4-H. 4-H is an organization that brings families, and young adults living in rural areas, small towns, and villages together as a community.

On the Eve of Christmas, there was one added tradition my parents would do. We would go thru our cupboards, clothes, games and whatever else we had and create a “care” package for one or two families that lived in the area. We would pack everything up carefully and go for a ride, leaving the packages anonymously at the front doors. One family lived by the road, so it was easy to walk to the door unnoticed, leave the package, knock, and leave. We would be well on our way by the time the door opened. I imagine that just our taillights would be visible in the blackness of the night. Looking down the person would sight the package and maybe realize that they had just been “gifted.”

Years later, when I was a single father of 3 boys, my doorbell would ring or a knock would be heard, as the boys and I were “gifted.”. By the time the door was opened – all that was visible were some bags of groceries and a gift card for the local grocery store. I learned it was not the bag of groceries, or gift card that meant the most. Yes, they were much needed at those times, however the warm fuzzies that were created was knowing that we were not alone and someone cared. It was a sense of community giving us a feeling of warmth - knowing everything would be ok and we were indeed not alone.

Out of those early experiences, I remember to count all the blessings received thru the seasons, and especially the challenging times and know that my life and those I love are and will always be blessed. As each new challenge is received, I remember to count my blessings, cherish my friends, loved ones, and as I honor my love ones in my life on Christmas Eve I remember those less fortunate; I knock, leave a package on a doorstep, and walk quietly into the night knowing that as I have given, I also have received. For that is what the season is really about – is the giving and loving each other.

Do you have any Christmas Traditions?

Happy Christmas (War Is Over)

Enjoy

Peace on Earth, Little Drummer Boy

Happy Holidays

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Cookies!


From Thanksgiving to Christmas was a very special time in our home. My sister and I would hope for the 1st major snow storm of the season that would sweep in from the west, with big white fluffy flakes as big as boxcars that would pile quickly, all so that we could hear – “No School for Peshtigo Schools” announced on the local radio station. It was also a time when the temperature would plummet to 30 below if not more for more than a fortnight and the river ice just outside the kitchen window would crack and echo off the limestone outcropping a mile way, much like a rifle shot in the middle of the night. The 3 tall Basswood trees in the yard stood as sentinels in the light of the full moon as we glimpsed neighbors’ lights off in the distance thru frosted window panes.

One of the memories of the season as a early teen happened in our home every night after supper as the table was cleared and we started making, shaping, and baking Christmas cookies and making fudge. Baking each night for 12 nights we created different cookies and fudge; 12 dozen to be stored in the containers Рeach with an apple to keep them moist. Russian Teacups, Spritz, Almond Snow Cookies, Bourbon Balls, Brown Sugar Cookies, Oatmeal Cookies, Sour Cr̬me Cookies, Chocolate Fudge with walnuts, and many more.

Each night as the cookies were baked; some would be deemed worthy of bakers only and used as special treats with a large glass of ice cold milk. By the end of the twelfth night, we had accumulated a mountain of cookies and then the boxing started. In each box would go a sampler of 6 cookies of each flavor with an apple wedge added and wrapped in the festive paper of the holiday.

With the wrapping and labeling now completed - the next step was to plan the route by mom. We would awake bright early the Saturday just before Christmas Eve; eat heartily to add fuel to our inner furnace, bundle up to stay warm and head out to deliver cookies with my mother at the wheel. Extra blankets were placed in the car, and the boxes of cookies placed in the back seat as well as the trunk. Dad chose to stay home to keep the fires burning as we would not return until well after dark. As each package was delivered; old friendships were rekindled, stories told, coffee or tea offered shared along with conversation about how blessed we all were to have friends like each other.

Do you have any favorite Holiday memories?