I'm a little behind in posting the newspaper articles to the blog, so I thought it would be a good time to catch up. Here are the last two from the month of December. The Joseph one is a re-do from a couple of Christmases ago, so if you were reading the blog at that time, you might remember it from then.
Christmas Cookies (from the 12/16/15 issue)
My little brother loved to piddle in the kitchen from the time he was a little fella. I was more interested in eating the food than preparing it. One day, hunger got the best of me, and I decided to fix myself some tomato soup. I don’t remember the details, but apparently I wasn’t doing it correctly. Soon he was beside me with a dining room chair, which was bigger than he was. He gently moved me aside, climbed up onto the chair, and said “Don’t worry, Cat, I’ll fix it for you.” What a sweetheart! He fixed my soup for me that day, and he grew to be a very fine cook.
I, on the other hand, still prefer eating the food than preparing it, so I never really got very good at it. Shortly after I married in 1980, I invited my parents and my new in-laws over for dinner. The menu escapes me at the moment, but the main dish was fried chicken. My mom and dad arrived early to help with the last-minute preparations. What bride doesn’t wish to impress her new in-laws with her homemaking skills? I had just taken the chicken out of the pan when my mom got there. It smelled so good, and was beautifully browned and crispy. However, when my mom cut into a piece with a knife, it was still pink. Whaaaat??? She asked me how long I cooked it, and I told her that I cooked it until it was done. I mean… it was nicely browned and crispy, right? Thankfully, my mom was able to salvage the chicken, and after we had finished dinner, my sweet mother-in-law had a good laugh as well. But we didn’t spill the beans until after we had eaten.
I may never have learned to cook fried chicken, but I did learn to enjoy making snacks, party food, and cookies. When Christmas time came around each year, I’d rustle up a bunch of treats to share with friends and neighbors. I’ve always enjoyed this tradition, but never so much as last year when my granddaughter helped me. All of the grandkids have always enjoyed helping out in the kitchen, but when the pressure is on to produce, it normally worked better to spend my time in the kitchen when they weren’t here. Sometimes “helping” wasn’t really helping at all. My youngest
I’m looking forward to time in the kitchen with both granddaughters in the next few days, when it will be time to let the baking begin!! My oldest granddaughter already knows her way around the kitchen really well, and does a great job. It will be fun working together. Not so much with my grandson yet. We will spend special time together doing something else - just not in the kitchen. While he sort of enjoys it, he’s rather impatient, and is more interested in the end result and eating the cookies! Maybe next year he will enjoy the preparation and cooking process as well. What fun it will be to have all three of them “helping” me!!
How about you? It’s not too late!!! Drag out those recipe books and whip up some Christmas cookies!!
The True Meaning of Christmas (12/23/15)
For (hopefully) most of us, Christmas is all about Baby Jesus in the manger. For others, Christmas is simply a time of parties, the madness of retail frenzy, and maybe a warm feeling in the heart. Not so much about Jesus, yet a happy time of peace and goodwill to men. For some, Christmas is just a sad time of year to be endured.
Since becoming a mother myself, each year when Christmas rolls around and we focus on the manger, the angels, shepherds and wise men, I have had a much different attitude toward the parents. Mary and Joseph. They have become more real to me than before the birth of my own child.
The personalization of Mary and Joseph seems to become stronger for me with every passing year. There's a song called Mary Did You Know that has become popular over the past several years. Another favorite song about Mary is Amy Grant's version of Breath Of Heaven.
Mary and Joseph were real people. Young people. And they were real parents. Do you remember how you felt when you first held your own child? There is no greater joy in the world. Chances are, though, that your red-faced, squirming, screaming little bundle of joy was wrapped in a clean blanket, after a sterile birth in a warm bed with a host of medically-trained personnel orchestrating the event. Dad may or may not have been present in the room at the time of the birth, but if he was, his only hands-on involvement might have been cutting the umbilical cord. The responsibility of the birthing process didn't rest on his shoulders, because the nurses and doctors were there to facilitate a safe birth. No doubt about it. The birth of a child rocks our world, and we discover within us a love that we never imagined existed.
Mary and Joseph were real people. I can't imagine how frightened they were. We women complain about the discomforts of pregnancy. Can we imagine traveling for miles and miles on the back of a donkey with a baby lying low in the womb? We have our birth plans all mapped out, and we pre-register at the hospital a month or so in advance. All we have to do is walk in the door, and our labor and delivery is managed by those trained to assist us. There was no warm hospital bed for Mary. I can imagine a frantic Joseph desperately searching for a place to stay as Mary leaned against the smelly donkey, holding her stomach as the pains of birth were upon her. There were no brightly-lit rooms or warm blankets. There was a dusty barn, likely filled with the smell of animal poop rather than antiseptic soap. There were no beeps of medical contraptions to surround her, rather the soft breathing of the animals, perhaps the lowing of cattle in the distance, the whinny of horses or bleating of sheep as the background music for the birth of her child. Young Joseph wearing his dirty travel clothes was her attendant, not a host of nurses clad in clean scrubs. Joseph, who had no Prepared Childbirth classes, attended Mary as she labored, and at the final moment, received into his hands the Glory of God, as Jesus entered into the world in the form of a flesh-and-blood human.
I wonder what Mary and Joseph were thinking as they cleaned Him up, and wrapped him in tattered blankets? Because of the visits from the angels, the immaculate conception, they knew that something Pretty Big was going down. But. Did they know? Did they know What, and Who they were holding? I like to think that God bathed them with grace to protect them from what was coming down the road. I can't imagine what it would have been like for them to know from the get-go the path that He would take, and what He would ultimately submit himself to.
There are few things sweeter to me than pictures of a dad holding his baby. I love a daddy who loves his children, and isn't afraid to show it. Do we think that Joseph is any different from other dads? Somehow it seems we don't think much about Joseph at all. He was an exceptional young man, called upon by God to do a crazy thing: Marry his pregnant girlfriend, with whom he knew HE had never been intimate. Obedient to the voice of God, he was a faithful servant, and did as he was told. There were no lights or cameras in the stable, but I imagine that Joseph was as overcome with emotion as any other dad upon witnessing the birth of his child, or upon seeing the baby for the first time behind the glass walls of a nursery.
As Mary slept afterward, can't you just see Joseph gazing into the face of his child, the way all new parents do, wondering at the miracle of birth. ESPECIALLY THIS BIRTH!!
Have you heard this song? It’s called Joseph’s Lullaby. So amazing.
Go to sleep my son, this manger for your bed.
You have a long road before you, rest your little head.
Can you feel the weight of your glory?
Do you understand the price?
Does the Father guard your heart for now,
So you can sleep tonight?
Go to sleep my son. Go and chase your dreams.
This world can wait for one more moment
Go and seep in peace.
I believe the Glory of Heaven is lying in my arms tonight.
Lord I ask that he, for just this moment, simply be my child.
Go to sleep my son. Baby close your eyes.
Soon enough you'll save the day.
But for now, dear child of mine.
Oh, my Jesus, sleep tight.
Wow. If that doesn't give you a new view of Joseph, I'm not sure anything can. Mary was real. Joseph was real. Jesus IS real!! I hope this year it all feels very real for you.
Merry Christmas, from my house to yours!!