Yesterday, we had a little snow storm. We got several inches of light, fluffy snow, enough to make the roads slippery and enough to make the woods and the yard pretty. Soon the dog and I will head outside so that I can finish with the clean-up. (Clif got up early and used Little Green to clean most of the drive way.) If this were March, I wouldn’t bother with so little snow. But this is December, and much more snow is likely to come, which means keeping up with the snow is very important.
The countdown to Christmas has begun. We are 10 days away, and I have devised a cooking schedule for myself. Some things, like squash bread and the chocolate ice-cream pie made with homemade ice cream can be made ahead of time and frozen. The same is true for wheat bread, and I always like to have a few loaves stashed in the small chest freezer in the cellar. French toast is ever so much better with homemade bread, and the same is true for grilled cheese sandwiches.
Other things—cookies, peanut butter balls, and hand-dipped chocolate covered pretzels are best fresh. From Sunday, December 22 to Tuesday, December 24, we will be cooking fools at the little house in the big woods. Fortunately, Clif will be able to help me this year. Last Christmas, he had broken his arm, and all he could do was roll peanut butter balls. This year, he’s not only going to roll peanut butter balls, but he’s going to dip the suckers as well.
Next week, I’ll be making lots of gingersnaps from a recipe of my mother’s, and these cookies are good keepers. They can be made several days ahead of time, very helpful this time of year. I plan to give colorful bags filled with gingersnaps to various “elves” who make this town a better place.
This morning, I read a blog where the writer made a case for not celebrating Christmas or buying a presents. He is not a Christian, and he is put off by the commercialization of the holiday. The writer has a point. Christmas has become commercialized, and with all the cooking and cleaning and getting ready, it is also a lot of bother.
But I don’t care. I love Christmas anyway. I love the bother and the presents and the decorating and the cooking. I love celebrations in general—birthdays, baby showers, anniversaries, whatever—and it seems to me that this country could use more celebrations and less nose to the grindstone. It feels as though there is too much drudgery and not enough fun in the United States. Work, work, work for too little pay. No maternity leave. Very little vacation. You actually want a day off? Bah, humbug!
As always, explanations are in order. I come from an ethnic group—Franco-Americans—that places a high, high value on hard work and cleanliness. In the past, Franco-Americans were all too often accused of being stupid, but nobody ever accused them of being lazy or dirty. Whether it was in the factory or at home, Francos were (and still are!) organized and energetic.
But, boy did Francos know how to have a good time. (And still do!) On Christmas Eve, my mother’s family would go to midnight mass, come home, have tourtière pie, unwrap presents, and party until dawn. Now that’s what I call celebrating.
So give me Christmas and birthdays and all the other celebrations that give sparkle to life. There are plenty of days left to work hard.
Correction: My daughter Shannon quite rightly pointed out that there are 15 days until Christmas. What a good thing it would be if I could count correctly 😉