December 23, 2015
Christmas is many things to many people. I’ve heard just about every opinion on the holiday you could name. Many like to point out that there are “pagan” elements to the Christian celebration. Some, especially today and for the purposes of their own political agenda, cry out that there’s a war on Christmas. There’s a lot of brouhaha about political correctness (one of the more interesting expressions we’ve come up with in modern times in my opinion), and coffee cups not honoring the season, and the like.
I believe there is room for everyone’s personal beliefs in this world, and I also believe we are all better served when we remember that and show respect to one another.
In the Ashbury household, one of the many meanings of Christmas is the passing down of traditions. And one of the best traditions I participate in (again, in my opinion) is cookie baking day.
My second granddaughter, Emma, and I have baked Christmas cookies together each Christmas since she was very young. Her brother used to join us, as he’s only a year younger than she. But these days, it’s just the two of us. And this year, for the first time, we didn’t take a Saturday a week or two before the holiday itself to do the deed. This year, we got together yesterday, late in the afternoon and baked into the evening.
Emma is now fifteen and has a part time job. For the last year she has been a “buss person” at a local eatery. She has worked every weekend, worked all through summer, and was scheduled to work every day during her Christmas break from school, except for the holidays themselves.
In the beginning of this tradition, it was Emma helping me, as we mixed the batter, rolled the dough, cut, baked, and finally decorated. I taught her as my mother taught me, and we talked about all manner of things in the doing. It was very special Grandma/Emma time, right from that first year.
She and her brother used to spend a lot of time here when they were younger, especially when their mother, our second daughter who is a nurse, worked nights at the hospital. We not only baked together, we cooked together, and I taught her, again, as my mother taught me.
At fifteen, she does most of the cooking at home, especially since mom still works some nights, and on day shift doesn’t get home until eight in the evening. Emma has taken the craft beyond the small lessons I gave her and is a very good cook in her own right. It’s something she enjoys doing and like I do, she often just tries things that she thinks will taste good together.
She also has an artistic flair, and this comes out in the decorations she gives each sugar cookie. In recent years, since this is the part that takes the longest, we’ve opted for convenience and purchased the rolled sugar cookie dough you can find in the grocery store.
There are other traditions we’ve observed over the years for this special day, most of which our own children carried on. When our kids were small, they had to wake us up Christmas morning, and then wait until we had our coffee and were in the living room before they could come down stairs to see what Santa had brought. No, this wasn’t to torture the poor children. This was, as I am sure many of you can appreciate, so that David and I could get that first sip of coffee to wake up since we’d only had a couple hours sleep. This was our fun, watching the kids’ reactions. And oh, that Santa! He always gave the best toys, and put the biggest orange he could find in the toe of the stocking. I was able to tell my kids he’d always done the exact same things for me.
Christmas morning was the one day in the year, when I was a child, that we sat down together as a family for a huge breakfast—bacon, sausage, eggs, pancakes, fried potatoes, orange juice and grape juice! Often food forms a basic element in our traditions, doesn’t it? The large Christmas breakfast was another tradition that I continued.
I have in the past prepared the Christmas feast myself to feed upwards of twenty people. Those days are behind me now, but others have taken over, carrying the torch, as it were.
Whatever your traditions, I wish you great good happiness and fun times over this Christmas season. May joy and love and the company of family and friends bless your celebrations!