A sign that I have been a student too long: after the Lessons and Carols advent service tonight at Calvary, a woman approaches me at the refreshments table where I have proudly placed a tray of gingerbread tree cookies, and asks, “Where did you get the recipe for these?” and I say without missing a beat, “The Betty Crocker Textbook.” Which sounds like something I keep on the shelf next to other important works like The Pathologic Basis of Disease and Gray’s Anatomy.
Darkness before dinnertime at the senior center, ugh. I would dread these early nights were it not for the lights and candles we festoon on every bough, to scatter the darkness and remind us of the Savior Christ whose birth in great humility sanctified us all with light and peace.
A friend of mine, whose foreign birth has him unconvinced of the merits of the English language, is discomfited by the absence of the “y” in holydays, and rightly so. The meaning of Christmas has lost much more than a letter since medieval times, but perhaps the word can remind us to look for the return of the y—the holy—the second coming we yet await. I love the inklings of Christ’s coming in the Old Testament “shoot out of the stump of Jesse” passages we revisit this time of year—“The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion, and a little child shall lead them…They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:6-9) To a promised time of peace like this, I can only chant Come O Come (quick!) and pray that it is a promise that will be kept.
Meanwhile, I will spread good cheer in the form of sugar, put lights and ridiculous garlands all over Fuchsia and Lime, and try to achieve fewer days like today, in which my diet consisted entirely of these:
More Addictive Than Crack Gingerbread Cookies
Adapted from the old stained cookbook I used to use with Mom (Betty Crocker ala 1960s?)
½ cup sugar
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup dark molasses
¼ cup cold water
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons ground ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground allspice
¼ teaspoon salt
In large bowl, beat sugar with butter. Then add molasses and water with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
Heat oven to 375°F. Grease cookie sheet lightly or put down a layer of parchment. On floured surface, roll dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut with floured gingerbread cutter or other shaped cutter. On cookie sheet, place cutouts about 2 inches apart.
Bake 8-10 minutes or until no indentation remains when touched. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting, or else you’ll have a bunch of melted wax faced gingerbread people.
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 to 5 tablespoons half-and-half (or nonfat milk and half a stick of butter, like I did today!)
In medium bowl, mix powdered sugar, vanilla and half-and-half until frosting is smooth and spreadable.
Seriously, I cannot control myself with these cookies. They deserve their own series of Breaking Bad. My flesh, my flesh is weak (and I don’t care)…particularly the flesh right under my nose and attached to my esophagus. Thankfully they disappeared from the refreshments table in two blinks. I’m already measuring out my willpower to resist making them again for at least a week. Maybe my anticipation for the second Sunday of Advent can be coupled with awaiting a second taste.
“May He whose second Coming in power and great glory we await/ make us steadfast in faith, joyful in hope, and constant in love.” Amen