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Take Five

Posted Dec 08 2009 8:52am
Take five.
My five favorite Christmas stories:

1. The nativity. I always have to find a nativity play at a church. Christmas does not seem like Christmas unless you've seen the children arrayed in bathrobes, carrying shepherd hooks, or wearing halos. And I always cry a little at Christmas pageants, remembering my own children grumbling their way through them.

2. 'The Best Christmas Pageant Ever', by Barbara Robinson. (I didn't realize that in Australia or New Zealand, you'd find this under 'The worst Kids in the World'.

3. 'It's A Wonderful Life'. Yep. I'm one of 'those'. I love this show, and I cry over it every single year. The book is 'The Greatest Gift', by Philip Van Doren Stern. This little story was actually Mr. Van Doren Stern's Christmas card enclosure for 1943. He wanted to encourage people during the grim dark days of World War II. He did a pretty good job, I think, his little story eventually reaching no less than Frank Capra who rewrote it into a screenplay.

4. 'A Christmas Story' by Jean Shepherd.

5. Finally, I guess, I'd have to say 'The Homecoming', the simple Christmas story that launched 'The Waltons' series. It was just a sweet story of a family during hardscrabble times. Yep. It's one of those things that brings tears to my eyes, and it was the first time that I'd ever heard the word 'piss ant' on television. I was shocked by it actually. Seems terribly long ago, doesn't it?

I also like George C. Scott's version of 'A Christmas Carol', but that would be six, and it would screw things up, so I won't add it. Some folks wouldn't be able to restrain themselves, but I have self control.

Top five Christmas songs?

1. I like 'Milk and Cookies' by Clint Black. If that doesn't snatch you right back to your childhood, nothing will.

2. 'What Child is This'. This particular version is done by the Moody Blues. Cool, hey?

3. 'Here We Go A-Wassailing'. This particular version is instrumental with dulcimers.

4. 'I Believe in Father Christmas' by Greg Lake. I had a heck of time finding a decent audio of this song. I really do believe that as adults, each of us do get the Christmas that we deserve. What we do for each other, what we give, what we share...this is what makes Christmas. Look around you, people. I don't care where you live, there is someone who needs the blessing of you this holiday. In blessing others, we find that we have received the Christmas that we deserve, rich and wonderful and filled with love and joy.

5. 'Love Came Down At Christmas'. I've never heard this singer before, but she is very good. Enjoy.

I also have a holiday song that is more for New Year. I like 'Same Old Lang Syne' by Dan Fogelberg. Since this is not a Christmas song, and I am a woman of self control, I will not put it on my list.

Five Favorite Kids:

In no particular order, Brianna, Stacey, Mike, Dylan, and Cara.

Five Favorite Cookies:

1. Frosted sugar cookies.

2. Spice cookies

3. Date filled cookies

4. Peanut Butter Blossoms

5. Brownies with nuts and chocolate frosting

Since fruitcake is not a cookie, and most people don't like it, I won't bother to tell you that really, I have the best recipe ever and that you will actually like this fruitcake. This is Grandma Violet's recipe, and she is gone from this earth. It is very simple, and just looking at her careful writing makes me teary eyed:

Old Fashioned Fruitcake

2 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs slightly beaten
1 can condensed milk
2 2/3 cup (28 oz jar) of Nonesuch Mincemeat (or other)
2 cups (1 lb jar of mixed candied fruit)
1 cup walnuts coarsely ground

Butter 9 inch tube pan, line with wax paper, and then butter again.

Sift flour with soda (I never sift, but grandma apparently did), combine eggs, milk, mincemeat, fruit and walnuts. Fold into dry ingredients. Bake at 300 for 2 hours, until the center springs back and the top is golden. Cool five minutes, and turn out of pan, decorate with glazed fruit.

Just reading those careful words, carefully written for her grand daughter in law, the one who did not think that she liked fruitcake, well...that brings a tear to my eye too. She was dear, and Grandma Violet was absolutely right. I did like this fruitcake.

I love Christmas. I love the tree, and the creche, and the gift giving, and the cookie making, and...and...cripes. That's five things. I need to stop already. But I haven't told you about the Christmas dishes, and wrapping, and...well. Maybe you all better just thank your lucky stars I'm a woman of self control.

Merry Christmas everyone!
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