Sunday, December 14, 2008

Perfect Christmas is Imperfect

Rarely are the best Christmas memories the most expensive. The best are the ones most personal ones. The ones with hurdles to overcome. the ones when you have to "make do" with imperfect circumstance.

It came at the end of one of the years that Trevor played Pop Warner Football. Otherwise known as the winter of infectious childhood disease.

As the "bumps" made the rounds- this mommy was pretty much locked at home for the weeks leading up to Christmas. Not being able to leave home except when my hard-working husband was home- about the only things I could do was to pick tangerines and take the list to the grocery store. That year turned into the year of the perfectly turned out meal.

The menu was posted on the refrigerator. The table was set ahead of time. Platters, bowls and serve ware were matched to the menu- each container was labeled with a little tag of what was to go in it for the big holiday meal.
A backwards countdown determined the time to start each dish. Everything for the main meal was ready to go hot and fresh to the table- at the same time.
My father-in-law was not the easiest man to please. But that year he bragged on that meal like it was served at the Four Seasons.
I have not a clue what we gave or got that year. What I remember is how adorable the boys were in homemade costumes. performing their play and the miracle of how stress-less it all was.

"Theme-ing" presents is a great way to elevate simple gifts to a memorable event. A youngster's family would remember a Mouse Christmas.
Laura Numeroff's award winning "If you give a Mouse a Cookie" is delightful reading for a young child and can usually be found at local bookstores..

The plate of Night Before Christmas Cookies was presented by Sue Maxwell- aka Oregon Sue- who who sent the recipe with a photograph from Dede Wilson's Bakers Field Guide to Cookies, with this note.
"I used to pipe on the eyes and nose, but I found miniature chocolate chips and just stick them on instead. So much easier! They keep their shape when they are cooked. Easy! Use a small chopstick or one of those long skewers to poke a hole in for the tail after they are cooked. I couldn't find the black licorice for the tails here, so I use red. It's the "lace" and you peel off the strands ... "
The book, the cookbook and the cookies are nice in their own right. But given together the pleasure multiples the memory of each.

The recipe for Night Before Christmas Mice (with more pictures!) Can be found at

Author Laura Numeroff's web site can be found at

A chocolatey version of the cookies can be found at //


  1. Personal always means the most, you are right. And it sounds like - and obviously tasted like - a wonderful Christmas. There is no such thing as imperfect when it is made with love...

  2. Lydia,

    I reread your piece about Trevor being sick and you being locked down at home and only being able to go to the grocery store. Did that mean that you didn't have presents that year?
    I loved the picture of Trevor in his soldier costume! So cute!

    As far as that perfect meal I would love to taste your cooking sometime! I remember when you had that homemaking class at your house. Mz Mary Margaret McLydia? What did you call yourself then? Please relate that story on your blog. I think it would be so interesting.
    Loved our luncheon together today. Sounds like you got MUCH done after you left us. Did you try another market for the fresh cranberries? Hope so!
    Have a great time tomorrow!
    XOX Trisha

  3. Good Morning, Trisha! We will have to make it a point to do lunch more often. I found fresh cranberries across the street.
    I don't remember which son started the run on childhood diseases- but between the two of them- it was a good thing I tend to be highly organized. There were presents.
    The business you mention was afew years later-
    Executive Homemaker.


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