Christmas & Chanukah
"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;
What is essential is invisible to the eye."
Antoine De Saint Exupery
As I reflect upon the year, admittedly, I have been a little saddened by too much acrimony. So it is a Message of Love I send in this most beautiful of all seasons. Isn't this what is most important?
Always remembering - love is patient, listens, and doesn’t judge harshly. So our words come from the heart.
Love nudges us to embrace others and lose some of our self-centeredness because it is the simple person to person connection that brings true happiness.
May we take time to acknowledge those many people who help us each day, making our lives a little easier.
If we fill our days with loving spirit… joy and gratefulness will follow. With more happiness, there is more love.
With a kiss and a hug…
Photo credit: N i c o l a from Fiumicino (Rome), Italy [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Are you the type of person that likes to make things yourself even though you can buy it? If your answer is yes, instead of a fruitcake this season, why not try making a Panettone? Panettone is an Italian Christmas bread that is light and airy. The dough is similar to a brioche flavored with vanilla bean. Raisins and candied orange peel or citron are sprinkled throughout. Don't let the many steps or the time investment scare you away. This recipe is worth it!
Ooey... gooey... yummy!
1.5 sticks margarine or butter
1 bag chocolate chips-preferably dark chocolate
1 c chopped walnuts
1.25c dark brown sugar
1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Lay matzo in one layer as close as possible in WELL buttered rectangular glass pan. Breaking pieces to fit thoroughly.
3. Melt butter. Then whisk in brown sugar so butter and sugar are thoroughly mixed together, and pour over matzo. Spread like frosting, evenly over all.
4. Cook 5 -10 minutes until bubbly. It goes fast. Careful, don't burn.
5. Then sprinkle the chocolate chips and place in oven for 1 minute until chips are soft and gently spread over all.
6. Freeze about 45 minutes and carefully cut into squares.
Photo: Flickr user @ Leonid Domnitser/CC
Thank you to Tammy for the yummy recipe!
Zoe from Seattle, USA [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Beignets are a yummy fried sweet dough with powered sugar. French in origin, but made famous in Louisiana. Every year I kick off my beignet cooking on Christmas morning. We fry dozens of these tasty little fritters and run them around the neighborhood! The beignet cooking continues until Fat Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday) marking the start of Lent; a time for Christians to give up decadent treats. Start a new family tradition, fry up some beignets this Holiday season!
Construction Site On Christmas Night
by Sherri Duskey Rinker
You may recall this author's vastly popular book- Goodnight, Goodnight. This sequel has a charming Christmas twist. Beloved Dump Truck, Crane, Cement Mixer and Bulldozer are all back! They are building a new home for fire engines.
It is so fun to read aloud! .. and a Very Merry Christmas to all!
The Christmas Wish
by Lori Evert (author of The Polar Express)
This New York Times best- selling Christmas tale appeals to all ages who believe in the beauty and magic of Christmas. Surely, it is a book to be read every year and to enjoy throughout the winter.
Beautiful little Anya has a dream to be one of Santa’s elves. Bravely, she takes a journey to the North Pole as a menagerie of animals help her along. The illustrations are outstanding, one more captivating than the next. Imagine.. sharply drawn winter animals and little Anya against the Northern Lights, glaciers and towering pine trees. This is a treat you will enjoy thoroughly.
Light the Candles by Joan Holub (ages 2-6 years)
Although Light the Candles is now out of print, you should be able to find used as well as new copies online. It's a lift-the-flap book with rhymes that tell about today's American Hanukkah celebration.
Elijah’s Angel by Michael J. Rosen (ages 5 and up)
Elijah is an older Christian barber. He makes wood carvings of characters from biblical stories. Michael is the young Jewish boy who admires the carvings when he visit the barbershop. When Elijah gives Michael a carving of a guardian angel, it starts a conversation about friendship and religious tolerance. This is also an older book that you will have to look for either online or in your library.
Jodie’s Hanukkah Dig by Anna Levine and Ksenia Topaz (ages 4-8 years)
Jodie, an Israeli girl, dreams of becoming an archaeologist. She accompanies her father to a dig at Modi'in, the ancient home of the Maccabees. When they discover a small cave, she is the only person small enough to be able to get inside. It's a wonderful retelling of the story of Chanukah with archaeology and a little girl power thrown in for good measure!
A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas (ages 8-12)
This classic written by a great master, Dylan Thomas, is so fun to read and so original. It is about a small boy who relentlessly asks questions of the narrator to entertainingly evoke images of holiday celebrations of long ago. It is a secular holiday treasure.
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Fiona Haston
with Caldecott winning illustrator, Barbara Cooney (ages 5 +)
It is a beautifully written, touching and heart-warming story about courage and the power of family and love. Ruthie and her family are chosen to provide the Christmas tree for their small town’s church. Dad and she set to the task during the summer. They tagged it so come December they might easily retrieve it, but Dad is not yet back from war. What are she and Mom to do? Beware: The ending could bring tears of happiness.
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery W. Bianco (ages 4+)
While not strictly a Christmas or Chanukah story, it is SUCH a timeless classic, written in 1922 and seems appropriate no matter the season, to be appreciated by child and adult alike and a wonderful read-aloud.
As rabbit becomes shabby and worn, he worries he’ll no longer be loved. He discovers that worn and ugly means you ARE loved, and THAT is what is real… Just being sure this sweet and gentle story has not escaped you.
Ella's Yummy Chocolate Chunk Cookies
2 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup (two 4-oz. sticks) butter, softened
2 cups (one 12-oz. pkg.) semisweet chocolate baking chunks
3⁄4 cup granulated sugar
3⁄4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs + 1 extra yolk
Helpful hint! All ingredients should be at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until creamy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add egg yolk. Beat well.
Add dry mixture gradually, beating well.
Stir in chocolate chunks.
Using an ice cream scoop, drop dough onto ungreased baking sheets, 2 inches apart.
Bake at 375 degrees for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.
Hint: The cookies will continue to cook as they are cooling on the baking sheet for 2 minutes. Remove to a wire rack, let cool completely, and ENJOY THOROUGHLY!