Tag Archives: Christmas

Happiness is… Being Together at Christmas

It is Christmas Day afternoon and I am sitting alone in our house, nursing a cold. Dean and Clare are off on a hiking adventure, Andrew is in Atlanta with his girlfriend. I am not complaining — I do like my alone time, but looking at Facebook posts of families opening gifts is making me a little sad.

Christmas 1967. L to R: Kevin, Jeff Green in foreground, Aunt Lelia in background, Ron Choitz as Santa, Debbie (?), Julie (?).

When I was young our Christmas eves were spent with the Greens. I think the family would take turns hosting everyone else for Christmas eve (I remember it at my Uncle Bud’s house, our house and my Uncle Dick’s houses. Maybe Aunt Ginny too, once she was married. The cousins would play together — and often put together a performance of some kind. I was the oldest, so I was the bossy director. When we were all very young, Santa would come. I don’t remember when that tradition ended — maybe when my Gullick cousins moved to Mississippi? I do remember we did have a Christmas eve celebration at my Uncle Bud’s the year after my grandfather died.

Stop me if I have already told this story — it is definitely possible since I like it so much…

Sometime after 1963 (the year my brother was born), my mom made a line drawing of her parents and siblings with the title Happiness is… Being together at Christmas. After my brother found it at the lake house in Wisconsin and posted a photo of it on Facebook, my Aunt Ginny said it looked just like a photo she had and surmised that my mom had traced it from the photo. The drawing is too large to have been traced from the photo, but it was definitely the inspiration.

See for yourself…

original photo
Original photo

So this year they are finally all together again for Christmas — the first time since 1972 when Grandpa died. They have a lot of catching up to do.

In which this non-baker makes Christmas cookies

Our basement remodel is nearly finished and we are in the process of putting everything back to where it belongs. I’m being a grown-up and donating or throwing away things I don’t use or don’t need. It’s a tough process because maybe, someday, I might use the three burner food warmer or the old electric frying pan.

One of the items I thought about donating was a bread maker that was covered in all kinds of disgusting dust including scented cat litter dust, dryer vent dust and construction work dust. After dusting it off (and vacuuming it really well) I made the first loaf of bread it has manufactured in probably a decade. It was pretty good and didn’t taste at all like Fresh Step® with Febreze Multi-Cat Litter. I’m keeping the bread maker.

Another item I considered tossing was a cookie press kit that I bought when the kids were young because my mother (despite being a hoarder ) gave away the cookie press kit from my childhood. I have fond memories of making cookies with my mom using her cookie press kit like the one below.

vintage cookie press with discs
Vintage cookie press

I mostly remember the cookies made with the Christmas tree disk. We’d dye the dough green before putting the dough in the press chamber. They always were brown around the edges and a not-very-pinetree-green color on top.

Dean looked at the discs in my kit and marveled that they could become cookie shapes. I decided to make cookies to see if I wanted to keep the kit, so set to work softening butter and preheating the oven after finding a recipe online.

Before I continue — I am not a baker. I can bake, but I don’t make a habit of it. I think I like the idea of being a baker, but it always seems a tad too much trouble. Anyway, with the recipe in front of me and the oven preheated, I proceeded to make the dough and figure out the cookie press.

It took me a while to understand where the chamber went, how to open it, how to fill it and how to get the ratcheting thing to work, but I did eventually. I chose a disc that I thought would make a star shaped cookie.

Cookie press loaded to make star shaped cookies
Cookie press loaded to make star shaped cookies

I was right. Star shaped cookies were created from the disc.

Cookie stars with sprinkles
Cookie stars with sprinkles

After that I tried the Christmas tree, then something with a long oval hole and holes all around it which turned out to be a flower. Maybe a poinsettia?

Here are some cookies baking.

cookies baking
Cookies baking

Finally, the finished product. They were tasty. I’m keeping the cookie press. I may make cookies again in 2026.

delicious cookies
Delicious cookies

The Story of the Kissing Clauses

One Christmastime, long, long ago there lived a schoolteacher. The schoolteacher had many students and these students came from many backgrounds. Many of the students gave small gifts to the schoolteacher as tokens of the holiday season. Some of the gifts the students gave the schoolteacher were handmade by parents. Some were bought at the dollar store. Some were purchased at department stores. Sometimes the parents spent too much on the gift for the schoolteacher. Sometimes they regifted something they’d been given. If the schoolteacher thought about the gifts years later, she would probably remember most of them and who she got them from. The school teacher may even keep some of the gifts she received from her students for many, many years.  Some because they are genuinely useful. Others because she has fond memories of the student who gave them to her. And then there are the gifts from students whose parents were sort of celebrities at one time.

The Kissing Clauses was such a gift. It was a set of salt and pepper shakers shaped like Mr and Mrs Claus. They were both slightly bent at the waist, lips all a-pucker, ready to kiss each other. Not really exceptional — the family most certainly did not spend too much on the schoolteacher, but it probably was not bought at the dollar store and probably was not regifted. It was an average teacher gift from a sweet 6th grade girl. A sweet 6th grade girl whose father was an attorney in one of the most public court cases of the year — Bill Clinton vs Paula Jones. He was on Paula Jones’ side.

One recent night when the [former] schoolteacher put up her Christmas decorations she could not find the Kissing Clauses. The schoolteacher could not imagine a Christmas with out the Kissing Clauses so she looked one last time and found, behind the doll house in the knee-wall of the attic, a box of more decorations. Breath held, fingers crossed, she opened the box and there, wrapped in tissue so they would not break, were the Kissing Clauses. Once again, all was right in the world.

Merry Christmas to my blogging friends. Kiss someone you love this season.

The Kissing Clauses
The Kissing Clauses