Yesterday, I baked traditional Christmas cookies. My sister invites everyone in my family. I was joined by my sister, her daughter, my daughter and her beloved, two of my brothers, one sister-in-law and nieces/nephews.
Baking these cookies is something I love doing. We make several recipes from the Scandinavian Cookbook, published in 1955. I have my mother’s original copy. My sister found one as an adult that is in much better shape than mine.
Mandelspritsar (almond spritz cookies), pepparkakor (ginger cookies), and pecan crescents dusted with powdered sugar come from this cookbook. We also make “Mrs. Price’s Cutout Cookies”. These have cream of tartar that makes them taste what I’ve always called ‘ashy’; if a cutout cookie tastes ‘ashy’, it reminds me of my childhood!
My niece and sister-in-law laughed about how the cookies need to be placed neatly and evenly spaced on the baking sheets. They call it “the Pazen way” — we always want to make things just a little bit better. We were raised in the “continuous improvement model.”
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On Saturday, my friend Nae-Nae planned a ‘footie pajama parade’. This started when she & her kids went to see The Muppets Movie in footie-pajamas. Then it grew to a parade wearing jams and bringing jams for a child. There IS a Santa Claus for the children who’ll get the footie-pajamas.
Last night, Sixty Minutes commented on a a story they had broadcast two weeks ago on homeless children in Central Florida. These children lived in cars and campers. They cleaned up in gas station bathrooms before school. Their parents were out of work and the shelters were at capacity.
The follow up is that viewers had donated more than $1,000,000 toward solving this problem. People offered work for the parents, all of whom now have jobs. Housing for them has been secured, using the donated money. Colleges have given scholarships to the children. There IS a Santa Claus for these children.
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This morning, my friend Mary told me she, her daughter & niece had taken the children ‘essentially abandoned’ by her nephew to the Lincoln Park Zoo Lights. They’d gone out to dinner and she’d bought the three children winter coats and boots. She managed to extract Christmas wish lists from the children and will fulfill the requests. There IS a Santa Claus, where Mary’s concerned! There IS a Santa Claus for her three great-nephews.
The pathos of these children touches my heart. Their mother isn’t stable, but has total custody of these three children, by default. She does well enough with them that she will continue.
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I remember the words of The Rock Will Wear Away, written by Holly Near:
Can we be like drops of water falling on the stone
Splashing, breaking, dispersing in air
Weaker than the stone by far but be aware
That as time goes by the rock will wear away
And the water comes again
This holiday season, I pray for joy for all children. I pray that every will know that s/he is loved beyond the wildest imagining — no hunger, no exposure to extreme cold without proper clothing, a secure and acceptable place to live.
Let us be the drops of water, as are the people who paraded, those who buy coats, boots & Christmas presents for family in need, those who responded to Sixty Minutes. And let us do it throughout the year. It should be much more than just “the Pazen way”; it should be “everybody’s way”.