Cheers, and a merry one to you, and to yours

Archived | December 23, 2008 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I’ll confess I got a bit emotional a few times during the show. Mr. Keillor did a go-round of “Silent Night” and that always gets my throat all bound up and I can barely sing along. And then there was that whole story about the man and woman who left a party and sat in his car talking about the things they love and then he proposed to her, right there out of the blue. And she said “yes.” Oh, my. There I was, tears all the heck over, trying to eat my French toast. “What’s wrong, Mom?” the kids asked. It’s just the Spirit of Christmas, I told them. Gets me sometimes.
The Christmas Spirit is a strange and wild thing. Things happen you can’t explain, mysterious things, and beautiful things, and you’d best go with the flow or you’ll lose your mind. I haven’t been able to fall asleep before midnight for a good ten days now. Mr. Sundberg thinks it’s a bit odd. “You were doing WHAT at 12:30 a.m.? Baking spritz cookies? Is everything okay? Maybe you need one of those spa weekends.” Christmas Spirit, I told him. I’ll sleep next year.
And then there are the Christmas cards that come in from people I’ve never heard of. “Lorena Nelson” sends a card every year along with a photo of her son, Malcolm, who is about sixteen now. Who are these people? I’ve yet to meet them, but I can tell you whole lot about their lives. Lorena loves working for the DMV and Malcolm is going to China next year with the band. If I say something now, I’m sure she’ll wonder why I waited ten year, so I figure, just let it go. Besides, I rather enjoy the updates on Lorena’s love life. She’s engaged again. To a saxophone player named Leon. Which, she points out, is “Noel” spelled backward.
It’s the Christmas Spirit, I imagine, behind the anonymous gift of $100. that came to our house on Wednesday of last week, with a note attached reading, “Enjoy something local.” And behind the plates of cookies and loaves of bread on the counter from friends and neighbors. Someone shoveled our walk for us early this morning, and the Wilsons put up an inflatable nativity scene, complete with a hovering angel. My mother called on Sunday — she’d accidentally doubled an already-doubled recipe and ended up with over 300 peanut blossoms. I didn’t believe her when she told me she took a box of them down to the hardware store and stood with the bell ringer and handed out cookies. Until I saw the evening news.
People are eating berry compote and wearing sweaters that light up and ties that play music. They’re donating hams and turkeys to the food shelf and calling their grandparents and baking cookies with their children late into the night. They’re weeping at intersections and searching for the perfect gift and working longer hours. The scent of pine is everywhere. And so are bowls of chocolate, and nuts, and the perplexity of fruitcake. It’s Christmas, and we are not ourselves. Cheers, and a merry one to you, and to yours.
Reindeer Balls
This recipe came to my from my mother, accompanied by a story about how Santa ran out of reindeer food at the North Pole one year, and the only thing the reindeer would eat were these Russian-tea-cake-like cookies. The reindeer loved them so much, the cookies are now the reindeer’s main food source. Notice how they’re also nut-free; oatmeal has been substituted for crushed walnuts. Mmm!
1 cup butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp almond extract
2 1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup oatmeal
Cream butter with powdered sugar. Add almond extract. Stir.
Add flour, salt, and oatmeal. Mix. Roll dough into balls the size
of walnuts. Bake at 400 on ungreased cookie sheets for 10-12 min.
Roll in powdered sugar when cooled a bit, then again when even
cooler. Makes 4 dozen.