The smells of the season are upon us…yummmm……

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I just couldn’t do it! I could not stay in bed any longer! My husband left about 6:15am and I stayed up, in the dark and the cold….I am so excited because I am completely done preparing for Christmas! My house is clean from top to bottom – “mother-in-law” or “grandma” clean, as people teased me!  I attended a meeting for Scouts last night and everyone was teasing me because I was smiling the entire time (even though the meeting was slightly boring).  When probed, I admitted that my house was so clean, any of them were welcome to come on over, anytime now! LOL!  They then quizzed me about who was coming for Christmas, and I admitted my mother-in-law and they all said, “Ah-ha!”  And totally understood.  It is not that my mother-in-law looks at the nooks and crannies for dust bunnies or anything, but I really, really want to provide her with respite and rest from a harrowing year, and let her completely relax.  I love her son so much, and I know the pain he has felt at his dad’s passing; I cannot fathom loosing him like my mother-in-law lost her husband of 50 years.  Because of that, I want this Christmas to banish those sad thoughts from her, from my brother-in-law, my husband, and his two uncles (his dad’s brothers) who are also joining us.  So I have worked hard to be sure the house shines with a Christmas glow and that everything looks welcoming and warm and, well, like home.  And today, well, today I get to bake!

When I married my husband (28 years ago this year!!), I married into a family that cooks and bakes, in addition to sewing and crafting.  My poor mother-in-law…and her sisters! I really asked so many, many questions and I sat for hours, putting recipes on 3 x 5 cards when I visited with them in Colorado.  Everyone was telling me, “Oh, write this down, this is Eddie’s favorite recipe!!”  I have so many recipe cards (which I still have, in an old salt box a friend gave me about 25 years ago) that I still refer to.  And the funny thing is that most of them are for Christmas baking. So, today, it begins. In fact, I have cranberry bread baking right now.  I am also making banana bread and a cinnamon loaf today. I get the breads done early, because the rest of the day is the fun stuff!  I am sticking to just Christmas cookies this year.  We don’t really need the fudge, the turtles, the popcorn balls, pizzells (no waffle iron to make them with this year), peanut brittle, English toffee, and all the other family traditions I usually bake.  I took to baking with a vengeance and it is something I can do.

This year is the first year that it is just me and my youngest son.  It has really hit me this year that I am moving into a new phase in life: I am a grandma; my baby is 14 years old.  Life is speeding by and changing so quickly!  And today; today is just for him and me to spend together, laughing and decorating cookies!  We hang out every day because I homeschool him, but today is all about Christmas, my son, and cookies.  We have no other agenda items!  And you know what?  I feel so blessed.

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I also love to bake mince pies.  Most people groan when they hear the word, “Mince” associated with pie, but it is an interesting history, in an of itself:

“The Christmas pie came about at the time when the Crusaders were returning from the Holy Land. They brought home a variety of oriental spices. It was important to add three spices (cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg) for the three gifts given to the Christ child by the Magi. In honor of the birth of the Savior, the mince pie was originally made in an oblong casings (coffin or cradle shaped), with a place for the Christ Child to be placed on top. The baby was removed by the children and the manger (pie) was eaten in celebration. These pies were not very large, and it was thought lucky to eat one mince pie on each of the twelve days of Christmas (ending with Epiphany, the 6th of January). (What’s Cooking, America? site).

MincemeatPie3

My first bread is done and cooling off, and I am moving on to the banana bread.  I will also make my pies in the next day or two (I will also make an apple for those who just cannot handle mince!!).  I think that I have found an expression of the love I feel for my family, with food….because I cannot sew or craft, and you really, really don’t want to hear me sing!!!  Today, I am so happy to play with my youngest son and decorate cookies and start really “celebrating” this Christmas!

Blessings and happy baking!!

Christmas cookies

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