Monday, December 11, 2006

The Christmas Letters

Yesterday Mom, Mia, Molly, my cousin Deana, her daughter McKenzie, and I got together at Mom's to bake cookies. Jake, my little brother, was there too but he's starting to get too "old" to help out with cookie baking, he's almost 11. We started this tradition a few years ago, and it has to be one of my favorite parts of Christmas. We make cookies that we wouldn't dare go without like Peanut Blossoms and Chocolate-covered Ritz crackers. We always try a new recipe or two, and there's always at least one that fails. The kids decorate a gingerbread house, and we make kringle, because my Grandma Valley always did. The cookies are just the excuse to get together and laugh. My family is the type that shows its love by roasting each other. It's quite literally, if you can't take the heat get out of the kitchen! Everyone is the target sooner or later, and even the kids take turns with the barbs. It's all done in love, and while we all laugh at someone else's gaffe, we're just as quick to laugh at our own. Every one of us burnt our hand on a cookie pan (it's one of those unavoidable things when there's just not enough counter space). Molly got sick from eating too much dough and cookies. Mia got chocolate on her face (which then spawned a chocolate fight in which everyone else got it on their's as well) and then spent the rest of the afternoon in the bathtub. Jeff, my stepdad, wisely spent the afternoon puttering in the garage. We all came home with tons of cookies that will be gone all too quickly and memories that will linger until next year.

The Christmas Letters by Brett Nicholaus is one of those books that as soon as you finish reading it, you can't wait to pass it on to someone else so they can enjoy it too. While taking out Christmas decorations, the narrator reflects on the previous Christmas: the last he spent with his grandfather. Grandpa gave each member of his family a small piece of red felt cut out in the shape of a letter. Each letter signifies something special about that person that was important to Grandpa. Putting all the letters together spelled CHRISTMAS, and without any one of them, the holiday wouldn't feel complete. Grandpa also takes the time to remind his family the real meaning of Christmas and how much he loves them. The book has beautiful illustrations and is a really quick read. It's perfect as a gift book or to put out on the coffee table for guests to read. It will stir your emotions and remind you of what Christmas really means. I did pass the book on to my mom, and she thinks it will be a best-seller. I hope so!

While you're thinking about what Christmas really means go here. Xerox will send postcards to all of our troops overseas. All you have to do is pick a postcard and type up a message. Xerox will print them out and take care of the postage. While you can't choose who you send your message to, whoever receives it will definitely appreciate it. This isn't about whether you support the war or this administration: this is about caring for the men and women who defend our country.

Well, I'm off to eat another peanut blossom. Enjoy the day!