When I was growing up, my Mom made Christmas really great.
She’s a gal with a real affection for literature and loves to search out and find stories here and there. She has a big three ring binder full of Christmas stories that have become a family treasure of sorts.
What kind of Christmas stories are they? you might be thinking. They are stories about Christmas miracles, stories about giving
and sharing talents and feeling the true Christmas spirit.
One year she made a goal to read us a different Christmas story every night in December. The woman has patience oozing right out of her eyeballs.
There were six of us, after all. I’m pretty sure we were kind of wiggly, and fought with each other on occasion…and I bet she was tired.
It was December, remember?
I can still recall many of those stories to this day. I loved hearing her read to us and was often in awe of the magical way the night would become still and quiet and the hustle and bustle of the holidays would get lost. Even if it was just for a few minutes!
Yesterday while I was in the throws of hustle and bustle and crossing things off my TO-DO list, with speed and fury and being a bit grouchy with my kids and my husband… (it’s true…I get grouchy. More than I’d like to admit. Try not to hold it against me, okay?) I was pushing my Walmart shopping cart through a snowy parking lot and got to thinking about one of the stories Mom read to us…all those years ago.
It was about…
a teenage girl who begrudgingly went with her community orchestra, on Christmas morning to perform at a rest home for sick and elderly men. She was in a bit of an ornery mood (so glad I’m not the only grouchy one ) seeing as it was Christmas morning and she’d been coerced into leaving her warm home and new presents just to play her flute for a bunch of grumpy old men. Once she arrived and saw the men, her heart softened some. They were, after all…alone on Christmas morning! As the music began she found herself carried away in thought, and consumed with the Spirit of Christmas and melody of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” The music melted her heart, really. The grumpy mood, lost. In it’s place was joy and gratitude for the opportunity to bring a little bit of Christmas cheer to the lonely old men in the room. When they were done playing, the girl raised her eyes to the audience, eager to see if the men had enjoyed the music.
The men were all silent. Tears streamed down many of their faces, gratitude was evident in each set of eyes and the beautiful spirit of Christmas was glistening in the air.
And I was reminded again (in the Walmart parking lot…a really classy place to feel a little joy, let me tell you!) that the beauty of Christmas doesn’t lie in how many gifts I find for my kids, how many goodies I can cook my way through, or how many decorations adorn my walls.
The beautiful part of Christmas is love. It’s groceries left
anonymously on the doorstep of a neighbor in need. It’s families spending time together. It’s envelopes of cash given to those who have fallen on hard times. It’s being with friends, laughing and talking over a piece of cheesecake. It’s the Angel Tree at my local credit union. It’s Cindi Schut and her family singing “Rum Tummy Tummy” loud and clear at my front door. It’s friends pooling funds to provide an entire Christmas for a struggling family.
It’s the abundance of love.
It’s the love that’s really beautiful.
This is the Wassail recipe my Mom used to make for us,
when we were kids, at Christmas time.
She’s a pretty great lady, wouldn’t you say?
Reader of Christmas Stories and Maker of Wassail.
And those aren’t even her greatest talents!
Cinnamon Spiced Wassail
Time: 5 minutes hands on + 15 minutes cooking time
Recipe from my pretty little Mother
4 C orange juice
8 C (64 ounce bottle) apple juice
1/4 C lemon juice
3/4 C brown sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
1/8 t cloves
1. Into a large pot pour 4 cups orange juice,
8 cups of apple juice (a whole 64 ounce bottle) and
1/4 cup lemon juice. You don’t need to use fresh lemon juice, bottle works just fine.
2. Add 3/4 cup brown sugar
and 6 lovely cinnamon sticks.
Toss about 1/8 teaspoon of cloves into the pot.
3. Stir all the ingredients together with a whisk. Put the pot on the stove and bring it to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.
4. Remove the cinnamon sticks and serve. Be sure not to forget…cinnamon sticks left in the pot for an extended time make the wassail bitter.
If you are serving this for a party or get together, transfer the wassail to a crock pot and turn it to warm. Store leftovers in the fridge.