"As I let the dogs back in, I smell the snow. The walk is silver, the picket fence wears pointed caps. Night herself is luminous with the falling snow. A flurry comes in with the dogs and melts on the wide floor boards. No two snowflakes, I am told, are exactly alike and this is a mystery. Now the intricate shapes are gone, and only a spot of water remains. It is not very practical to stand in the open door at midnight and let the snow blow in. But it has been my habit for years to close Christmas Day just so, sending my blessing out to all the people in the world, those I know well and love greatly, and those I shall never see. And as I close the door, I repeat again my Christmas blessing. 'God rest you merry, gentlemen'."
"We always think of Christmas as a time of snow and icicles hanging from an old well and snow over the valley. But I had a friend who was newly married and went to live in the tropics. She felt sorry for herself as Christmas drew near. She wept. And then her husband brought in some tropical flowers...And it came to her suddenly that Christmas was not a place, nor was it weather, it was a state of mind. After all, she thought, Christ was not born in the North, he was born in a stable in Bethlehem. ..
It is certainly true that Christmas is only seasonal in the heart. The snow may be clean and deep outside, or you may be in a dingy apartment or you may be in a steaming tropical country. But it is still Christmas. Whether you serve the plump crispy turkey, or something exotic wrapped in pandanus leaves, the feeling of Christmas is there. It is in the mind and in the heart. The faith we have in the good rises like a tide and wherever we are, we feel it. Christmas graces any board and gives a new lift to our life, and as we hear once more the familiar carols, we thank God for the birth of His son. 'O Little Town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie - Above thy deep and dreamless streets the silent stars go by'."
"We beseech thee, Almighty God,
to purify our consciences by thy daily visitation,
that when thy Son our Lord cometh
he may find in us a mansion prepared for himself;
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord,
who liveth and reigneth with thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen."
"And while they were there [in Bethlehem], the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
This should cause us to reflect - it points toward the reversal of values found in the figure of Jesus Christ and his message. From the moment of his birth, he belongs outside the realm of what is important and powerful in worldly terms. Yet it is this unimportant and powerless child that proves to be the truly powerful one, the one on whom ultimately everything depends. So one aspect of becoming a Christian is having to leave behind what everyone else thinks and wants, the prevailing standards, in order to enter the light of the truth of our being, and aided by that light to find the right path."
- Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: the Infancy Narratives
If you're part Italian, these cookies may bring back memories for you.
I used to have them at Auntie Adeline's, but I always thought Uncle Charlie got them at the Italian bakery. And I never knew what they were called.
Years later at the library, I got into conversation with a woman - I hardly remember it, really - but I ended up with a recipe for cookies called "Totos". And they are the ones!
A few years ago we had a post holiday get-together - my Italian cousins - and I made them. Oh, the teasing I got - "just like Auntie Adeline's"! So - she had baked them herself. My half-Sicilian cousins pronounce them something like "duh DAWS". Well, so much for "toe toes" (and your little dog, too). I don't know how they are really pronounced or which region they come from; they're not in any Italian cookbook we have at the library. I've seen a few versions of the recipe online but they contain Crisco - mine has oil. I'll keep mine, thank you!
I thought I would share it -
Mix dry ingredients together first -
4 c. flour
1 c. cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 cup cold coffee
2/3 c. oil
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. orange zest
2 tsp. lemon zest
Now mix in the dry, a few tablespoons at a time. (You can actually just throw everything into the bowl together, but I find it easier to do it this way - it's more orderly.)
The recipe calls for 1 1/2 c. of chopped nuts and 1 c. raisins. I tend to leave out the nuts, so more raisins than a cup would be good. Mix them in, whatever they are. The dough is sticky.
With well-oiled hands, roll balls of about a soup spoon size and put them on a greased sheet. You'll get four or five dozen. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes - yes, they take a while! Start checking them at 20 mins; that might be enough.
They don't spread, which is nice, and come off the cookie sheets very neatly. When they're cool, mix up an icing with the juice of a lemon and about 2 c. of xxx sugar.
"Stir up thy power, O Lord,
and with great might come among us;
and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins,
let thy bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost,
be honor and glory,
world without end. Amen."
who didst send thy messengers the prophets
to preach repentance
and prepare the way for our salvation:
Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer;
Who liveth and reigneth with thee
and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen."
In some online shopping I'd found myself at Kohl's looking at scarves and there to my wondering eyes should appear a furry collar, which I knew instantly should be for Cyndi, who loves the different and unusual. It was a Vera Wang, and a good sale - I ordered it.
When it came I wanted to look at it of course, and took it out of the bag. I was very surprised at what I found.
I thought it would be shaped. It was a long rectangle. You can see the inside - it's a soft thin fleece material, or maybe that stuff they call minky. (is that fleece?). There is grosgrain ribbon at each end.
Here you can see the furry material it's made of. Well, that was it; I had to keep it. (sorry, Cyndi) But how easy it would be to make a collar like this. I took the dimensions, if you're interested.
It's twenty five and a half inches in length, and five inches wide. The five eighths inch wide ribbons are fourteen inches long, with a little hem on the ends.
Here I am in it
Isn't it cute? (and very warm!) Hope Vera doesn't mind my sharing a bit of information, but anyone who sews even a little could easily make something similar for a gift. Both fabrics are very soft, and I think that's why it works, why it curves around so well.
Don't worry - I ordered again; Cyndi won't have to be without one.
A sweet gift of scones from a client of my brother's, our sweet Dolly who wanted to see what was going on, and some minty blondies with green and chocolate chips I'm bringing to our party after work tomorrow - my gift.