Monthly Archives: December 2013

Christmas Epiphany

I had an epiphany last Christmas. I don’t really enjoy decorating for Christmas anymore.

For years, I loved it. I added to my collection of snowmen, Santas, and ornaments. I looked forward to digging through tissue paper in packing boxes to reacquaint myself with the treasures that hibernated in the attic for eleven months. Somewhere along the way, a little bit of apathy tinged the edges of excited anticipation.

A sigh betrayed me last year and led Anna to ask if I liked decorating. She loves everything Christmas. She plays Christmas music in July. At her request, we display our Christmas card pictures on the refrigerator door all year until the new ones arrive. She loves to decorate.

I admitted my secret and released the guilt. I let Anna take over while I concentrated on the part of Christmas preparations I love: sending Christmas cards and baking cookies.

We send over two hundred cards, and I love the whole process. I buy them on sale the day after Christmas. I hunt all year for the family picture we’ll enclose with the greetings. I inquire about Christmas stamps in October. At the first of December, I’m ready to write.

Cookies are a big part of our Christmas, too. This year we baked seventeen different kinds. Thank Goodness Hattie loves to bake, too. I think I’ll omit one of the new recipes, pretzel turtles. They’re delicious but dangerous for dental work.

We give cookie plates to several friends and neighbors, and then we eat the rest. Lane admitted yesterday as he and Quinn gathered the plates for delivery that sharing our cookies was one of the best parts of Christmas. Yea.

Here’s the recipe for a cookie that debuted last year became a new favorite. Don’t let the long ingredient list or grating the ginger root deter you from trying this cooking. It’s delicious.

Three Ginger Cookie

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
¾ cup butter, softened
¼ cup molasses
2 eggs
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger root
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
½ cup coarse grain sugar

Stir together flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in a bowl. Set aside

Mix brown sugar and butter at medium speed until creamy. Add molasses, eggs, honey, and gingerroot, beating until well mixed. Add flour mixture. Beat at low speed until well combined. Stir in crystallized ginger. Cover and refrigerate until firm (at least 30 minutes). Dough may still be sticky.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place coarse grain sugar in saucer. Shape dough into small balls and roll in sugar. Place onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until centers begin to set. Cool on wire rack.

Merry Christmas!

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The Power of Words (Ask Anna)

Words are powerful.
The rhyme, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” are false as anyone who’s ever played on an elementary school ground and suffered ribbing from classmates knows.

In fact, a Bible verse, John 1:1, attests to the power of words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”

Our family experienced an example of just how powerful words can be a few weeks ago. In the middle of an afternoon, our daughter, the co-manager of a women’s apparel shop, manned the check-out area while a co-worker helped clients in the back dressing rooms.

A nicely dressed woman approached the counter with nothing to purchase. Noticing her empty hands, Anna expected the woman to ask a question.

Anna: “May I help you?”
The woman: “Give me the money in the register.”
Anna, scanning the other shoppers on the floor and wondering if anyone else had heard what she thought she’d heard, asked the woman to repeat what she’d said.
The woman: “Give me the money in your register.”
Anna, still not believing what was happening at 4:15 with ten other women sifting through racks of blouses, dresses, and cashmere sweaters, asked her again. “I’m sorry. What did you say?”
The woman: “Give me the money.”
Anna: “No. I’m not authorized to do that.”
The woman: “But I need it.”
Anna: “No.”
The woman gave up and left.

Only several minutes later, while she reported the incident to mall security, did reality replace the surreal aspect of the previous minutes, and she understood she’d just experienced an attempted robbery.

Yes, Sweetie, an attempted robbery is “a thing” even if the robber is unarmed.

As a mother, I’m thankful that my daily prayers for protection had been answered positively—again. I’m proud that she can think on her feet in a threatening situation. I’m irritated, too, that she hadn’t been trained for this sort of emergency, figuring it out as the scene unfolded.

As a writer, though, I’m reminded again of the power words wield.

Not authorized to do that? Official-sounding words, aren’t they? Official enough to thwart a robbery.

Yes, words can hurt, but they can heal (and woo, amuse, affirm, and encourage), too.

They can even fight crime.

Powerful, indeed.