Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Gift of Time

Everyone should have an Aunt Jenny. She is generous and thoughtful--two fabulous qualities in a close relative. One of the talents that she has improved upon is her ability to cook. She is a bit of a magician in the kitchen.

My dear mother is not (a magician in the kitchen,though she is generous and thoughtful). She just told me today that she did not know how to make pancakes until she was married. She has improved a great deal over the years, but cooking is not a strong suit.

Each year Aunt Jenny made kazillions of Christmas treats and since she knew our family would have no Christmas cookies if she didn't provide for us, she would bring a large platter to our door. We lived 80 minutes away, but we knew we could count on Aunt Jenny. Her platters were an assortment of cookies and candies and were a delight to the sugar-starved Mattoon children. She also brought them because it was a way to show her love for us.

After I married my sweetheart, we, too, began making Christmas treats. Over the years we have refined the list to include only the very, very best recipes. Nearly every item has nuts of some kind. . . because I love them. Some are old recipes of my husband's Great-Grandmother Sweet (perfect name, huh). We bake and dip and frost as a family because that is part of the gift. We wrap them up and bring them to our friends and neighbors.

Once, we dropped the cookies off and ran. We were talking to that person later and they said they didn't know who the treats were from so they tossed them! How is that possible? We haven't done anonymous since (though we do accept anonymous treats willingly--delightedly!). Instead, we bring the tray and carol at the door. I am all about keeping traditions alive. Our little choir is much better now that our children's voices are there to help.

We cannot afford to give gifts through the year, so this is our chance to show our friends how much we love them and are grateful for them. Thank you, Aunt Jenny, for the inspiration . . . and the chocolate turtles.

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