Christmas Eve

Another clear and beautiful Alberta morning dawns. Although it is scant this winter, the thin layer of white snow sparkles in the sunlight, bringing to mind the picturesque scenes that Christmas cards are famous for.

It’s Christmas Eve 2011…full of the breathless excitement and anticipation that the day before a big event is famous for. Like the days leading up to a birthday or New Year’s, the days before Christmas are filled with the hustle and bustle of shopping, of choosing gifts for those we love, of baking, of eating. Most of all, these days are full of remembering the people in our lives who matter to us, past and present.

Our daughter’s birthday is Christmas Day and for a number of years, we have celebrated her birth on Christmas Eve so that she gets a separate celebration for both. She is home for the holidays – time to catch up on her busy life and her on ours (although ours doesn’t change much) before she leaves again for her home on the other side of the country.

Our son is still at home and although we connect daily, Christmas affords us the time to slow down and take time to reconnect and remember, build new memories and enjoy time spent together.

The tree is laden with gifts, waiting for tomorrow morning. The fridge is stuffed with food to be enjoyed at leisure and Christmas songs and movies abound, filling our hearts with yuletide joy.

Love overflows, spilling onto friends and family, connecting the past with the present. That is the true gift of Christmas – reminding us of who we love and where possible, bringing our loved ones together – in spirit if not in physical presence - and always in our hearts.

Christmas Eve is the pause…the indrawn breath…the seeing, knowing and believing in the magic of Christmas and the power of love.

May your own Christmas Eve be bright and your Christmas Day be merry and filled with love.

“God bless us, every one” Tiny Tim, from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Christmas Baking

Oh, the wondrous scents and tantalizing tastes of the festive season…the tangy sharpness of a warm ginger cookie, the heady aroma of a nutmeg log awaiting frosting, the citrusy crunch of fruitcake and the smooth coconut sweetness of chocolate drops affectionately known as moose farts.
At the end of the afternoon, my kitchen boasted eight racks of cooling confections proudly announcing the arrival of December and kicking off the Christmas season.
Familiar recipes, pages batter stained, with notes written in faded pen. Visions of my small children danced in my head as I baked, hearing their sweet childish voices in my ear as I washed out bowls of batter that they used to fight to lick and seeing their delighted smiles as they each got a fresh warm cookie from their favourite batch.
Today no little hands got in my way, no grubby fingers helped roll the nutmeg log dough in increasing grayish cylinders. No small aprons hung on their own hooks, no step stools to help them reach the counter for me to trip over. No sprinkles sprinkled on the kitchen floor, no dusting of icing sugar everywhere.
Just neat rows of perfectly formed cookies, Bundt pan fruit cake and logs that looked like logs.
Yes, my husband stole a few. Our son snuck up the stairs to pinch a few but his hands were clean and he didn’t disturb the rows or make a mess. So grown up now.
The cookies were packaged and tucked into the freezer to wait a few weeks before being enjoyed during the week before and after Christmas.
Our daughter will be home but her hands will also be clean and her actions neat when she selects her treats. She won’t fight with her brother to lick the beaters or get the last spoonful of frosting.
But every year, when I make Christmas cookies, along with the wonderful scents and delicious tastes, I am given the gift of remembering how it was when they were small and ‘helped’ me bake.
It is the best gift I could ever receive, especially with a ginger cookie to munch and a cup of tea to sip. Those aren’t tears you see on my cheeks, just reflections of the memories that warm my heart when Christmas baking warms my kitchen. Sweet memories of home and of Christmas.