Faith, family, Uncategorized

A Homespun Christmas Part 4-Revisited

This is the finale to my four-part “Homespun Christmas” series, which I am re-posting this Christmas season. It has been nice to fondly reminisce once again about Christmases long ago, as well as more recent celebrations.

From my home to yours, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas as you revisit your own memories of holidays from the past, and create new memories to cherish in the future.

May God truly bless each and everyone of you.

~ Robin

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When I think about what Christmas looks like to me, in fact the whole holiday season, it would not be complete unless all the enduring elements which I’ve come to expect are included in the picture.

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The adorning of the house with all the colors and symbols of Christmas time, digging through the stored-away bins of decorations like a character straight out of Whoville. Somehow, every year it’s still a fond exercise in tradition.

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Then there are Christmas cookies and all kinds of baked deliciousness in which we indulge, forcing back those pesky feelings of guilt and shame. After all, it is Christmas, and our New Year resolutions haven’t begun yet.

So we bake the cookies, we make the candy and fudge, we go to those holiday parties and enjoy this special once-a-year celebration!

 

 

Lastly, I love to see at least a little bit of snow during the Christmas season. It just feels right! I hang my ‘Let it Snow’ sign in hopes that it will come, at least for Christmas eve.

 

 

Aside from these, there are the things which you can’t buy, or bake. They are the gifts which we hold in our hearts, and the presence of those we love and cherish, when we lay aside the challenges in our relationships and choose peace and goodwill at least for now.

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The most precious of those unseen gifts are the memories of the ones we miss, especially during this time of the year. I understand all too well that the memories are not all good, some are painful and sad and irreparable, and we work through that the best we can, but still…. they are missed.

(This is my Dad ‘aka Santa’, several years before he took his journey to heaven)

 

For some, this will be a first. A first Christmas without a brother, an sister, a friend. I have my list, as I’m sure you do, too.

 

The decorations, the cookies, and the snow… of course all of those things are momentary.

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling. How could it be so? It came without ribbons, it came without tags, it came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’til his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before, What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas perhaps, means a little bit more?” ~ Dr. Seuss

 

Truly, Christmas is a matter of the heart…. a heart for family… a heart for goodwill……. the heart of a Savior, full of love for mankind, the brilliant star which outshines all the other details of my perfectly painted picture of Christmas.

 

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—” Ephesians 2:8

 

…the best gift of all!

 

(Photos by Robin Abrams-A Song In My Heart)

 

 

 

 

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Faith, family, Home Life, Uncategorized

The Perfect Gift For All

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If you are following the re-posting of my 4 part “Homespun Christmas” series, here is the link to Part 3, in which I share more precious memories of Christmas pasts. Thank you very much for all your support for these stories. I love writing them, and it blesses me so much that you enjoy reading them.

A Homespun Christmas Part 3

In all honesty, my mind is having a difficult time this year fully embracing the usual ‘holly jolly’ spirit of the season. I see the beautiful decorations and lights, the store isles lined with gift ideas and wrapping paper of all colors and patterns. My eyes are seeing everything that defines ‘Christmas’ to the world, but the excitement of the season is elusive thus far.

I don’t mean to put a damper on anyone’s holiday cheer, truly. Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved Christmas time, and still do. I love holiday baking, family get togethers and the songs of the season. I remember many, many Christmases that were full of all the elation and anticipation of the season and I know there will be many more of those to come.

This year, however, my thoughts are drawn to more than ornaments and gifts. I think of things that will never be found cleverly arranged on a store shelf, displayed with a price tag.
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Things like true and lasting “peace and goodwill“, which calms the hearts of men who are bent on self-destruction. This precious gift you won’t find in Santa’s sack of presents, for it begins far above any visible realm our earthly eyes can see. This kind of peace and goodwill originates from the very heart of God, which beats with the purest love for man.

He sent that perfect love to earth in the form of the a babe, His only Son, Jesus Christ. His gift to man…. the Savior of the world. The perfect gift.

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

 

 

Faith, Home Life, Uncategorized

A Little Taste of Heaven

When I was a small child, eating out at a restaurant and fancy store-bought treats were not a regular thing as it is for most people today. My Mother had several children to provide for and I’m sure these luxuries were not something her tight budget would allow. But every now and then we were delighted to be able to indulge and because it didn’t happen very often, these special memories were forever tucked into my memory bank. 

For instance, I recall the handful of times we were treated to a yummy lunch at the local Kentucky Fried Chicken. If it was an especially extravagant day, we would even enjoy one of their scrumptious, strawberry shortcakes for dessert! Writing this, I still remember as a child peering into the glass display case, longing for one of those fancy-looking parfaits, such a delicacy to that big-eyed, farm girl.

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But my very favorite sweet treat as a child was found in the small, local Mexican bakery. Another rare luxury, which made this a most special occasion.

 

Each of my siblings and I would receive a dark-brown, pig-shaped, molasses cookie, the dense, rich flavors taking our tongues on a new adventure every time. These cookies, I recently learned, are actually called “Marranito Cookies“, but we always just called them ‘piggys‘, and still do.

 

They say the most vibrant of memories are associated with our sense of smell and taste. Have you ever thought about your favorite childhood food and almost literally tasted or smelled the memory? That’s where this particular memory sends me. All the way back to those precious days when the smallest delight meant so much to me and my family.

Today, I still smile when I see those same pig-shaped cookies in the store, but the flavor and richness of them seems lacking. After all, my taste buds are recalling a time that was, let’s just say, more than a few decades ago!

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A few years ago, I happened upon a recipe which delivers the authentic, old-time flavor and texture of the cookies I loved so much. The icing-on-the-cake is that I also found the perfect, pig-shaped cookie cutter at a thrift store. Now my homemade ‘piggys’ taste and look like the ones I loved way back when!

 

I only make them at Christmas-time and then give many of them away because not everyone in my household likes them, and I find myself gladly eating up their share as well as mine!

 

 

Here’s this great recipe. Enjoy!

Marranito Cookies

1  1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup vegetable shortening

1  1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1  1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1  1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup unsulphured molasses

1 egg

1/4 cup milk

6 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350. Mix together the brown sugar, shortening, baking soda, cinnamon, and vanilla til well blended.

Add the molasses, egg, and milk, mixing well after each addition.

Gradually add the flour, mixing to form dough.

Roll dough to 1/4″ thickness. (slightly thicker to get a soft, dense cookie)  I roll the dough between two layers of plastic wrap or parchment paper for easy handling.

Cut into desired shape with cookie-cutter and place on a parchment-paper lined cookie sheet. In a cup, beat an egg. Brush the tops of the cookies with the beaten egg.

Bake 15-17 minutes, til slightly browned on the edges. Over cooking will result in a crunchier cookie. Remove from oven, let cool slightly before removing from parchment paper. Keep in a tight-sealed container.

As promised, here is a link to A Homespun Christmas Part 2

I hope you enjoy reading it again.

May the most special memories of your yesterdays bring you smiles and joy!

img_3725(All photos taken & edited by Robin Abrams- A Song In My Heart)