Where’s your list?
Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. It’s been a week, let me tell you. One humdinger. I’ve been baking and wrapping and planning, but the decorating is done. We managed to do the whole shebang in fewer than two hours this year. Not bad. Not that I wanted to rush it or anything. Just that time seems precious lately, and I’m not convinced that hours of draping and festooning and hanging is how I want to spend it.
Took the kids shopping over the weekend so they could buy gifts for each other, and for Mr. Sundberg. We spent most of Sunday afternoon wandering around Target. I served as point person with refreshments and maps, and they ran off in all directions and came scurrying back with their finds, tucking them discreetly under the pile of coats in the cart. I did some shopping of my own along the way, adding a red wool scarf for Mr. Sundberg and a Johnny Cash Christmas CD for my parents to the growing pile of gifts my children were so carefully selecting for each other and for their father: a 3 lb sack of M&Ms; battery operated toothbrushes; a lava lamp; a small jar of something called “Flarp” (it makes fart sounds when you press on it, which I know because I asked and a young man was kind enough to explain it); Aqua Velva aftershave; a number of DVDs and CDs and some glittery blue nail polish and so on.
I can’t explain it, but I somehow managed to get everyone through the checkout line with the proper items and into the car and through the Arby’s drive-thru and onto the road home without anyone seeing anyone else’s purchases, without any major arguments, and without loss of my own composure for more than three or four seconds. We sang along with the radio as we drove along, and I must say it was an all around fun day. “We only have one person left to buy for,” the kids said. And who would that be? I asked. “You!” they hollered. “Where’s your list?”
When I told them they didn’t need to get me anything, that if they’d clean up their rooms once in a while and not drop out of school I’d be happy, there followed a long silence. And then, “But we WANT to give you presents. You’re our MOM.” And then, for a moment, I saw her — the little girl I once was, handing the carefully wrapped Whitman’s Sampler to my mother, and the Old Spice Aftershave to my father. They were my parents, and it felt so good to be able to give them a gift.
I told the kids I’d make a list and put it up on the fridge. And I did. There’s nothing on the list I can’t live without, for sure. But. I have three children who want to give to me, and that’s something, if you stop and think about it. Sure is.
MOM’s Christmas List
Corningware casserole dishes with lids — oval, white.
Gift certificate for a large cheese pizza at any pizza place within driving distance.
Thought-provoking wood signs for the house. I have “Home is where your story begins.”
Refrigerator magnets. No profanity, please.
Wooden spoons. Spatulas with wooden handles.
A turkey baster. I have no turkey baster.
Bubble bath or fun bath stuff but no oils, and nothing that will dye the tub purple like last time.
Peanut Butter M&Ms.
Potholders and flour sack towels.
A decent colander. Doesn’t have to have flower designs or anything. Sturdy is good.
A book about how to plant a garden. Seriously.
Current road maps for Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Twin Cities.
A book about chakras.
The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen
A trampoline stunt book.
A new mouse for my computer. Mine is missing its ball.
A carbon monoxide detector.
A compact black umbrella. Quality. Not like the last one. One major wind gust was all it took.
A rug for the mud room. Something I can throw into the washer over and over again.
Whitman’s Samplers are lovely gifts. They sure are.
Erica’s German Tea Bread
I shared this with you nearly two years ago, and am sending it along again. The lovely woman who taught me to make this bread passed away recently, and I’ll keep a candle lit in her memory as I make this delicious stollen for my friends over the holidays.
Soften 2 T dry yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Set aside.
4 1/2 cups flour
4 T sugar
2 tsp salt
Cut in 1 cup butter.
Add 1/2 cup canned milk, the yeast mixture, and 2 unbeaten eggs. Mix well and chill 2 hours or overnight.
Before baking, melt in a skillet ½ cup butter, 1 cup packed brown sugar, and 1 cup chopped walnuts. Add 1 tsp almond extract. Leave on low heat.
Divide dough into four sections. Pat out each section to 8 inches round on a floured surface. Put 2 T (I use a bit more) of nut mixture on 1/2 of the round. Fold dough over into a crescent and seal. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Make cuts 1 inch apart along the outside edge and gently turn cut sections onto their sides so filling is somewhat exposed. Let rise 45 minutes. Bake at 350 for 20–25 minutes. Frost while warm with powdered sugar frosting, and adorn with sliced cherries where the cuts were made.