December 20, 2010

Visions of Sugarplums?

No, I'm not printing, or sketching, or, let's be honest, even thinking about it much these days.  I'm swept up in a whirlwind of pre-Christmas preparations and, although we're once again doing our best to avoid the commercial frenzy and we're not running around shopping, there are still many things to be done.  

My idea of the ideal Christmas doesn't change much from year to year. For me it's all about creating an atmosphere of sanctuary: music, family, some special food treats to share.  And it's also about celebrating tradition. It's much too easy these days to get caught up with modern toys and conveniences and I won't, and can't, pretend I don't like all the new technology available to me: my iPod, my computer, my Blackberry. But it's also important to me to step back from these modern things, and turn my hands to some type of timeworn ritual that goes back further than I can remember.

Christmas baking is like that.  I tell myself each year I'm not going to bake anymore.  All those cookies are fattening, making them is time consuming, I could be doing other things. And yet each year, at the last minute usually, I break down again and tie on my apron, turn on the CD of old Czech Christmas folk carols, and get busy.  The music sends me back to the days when my mother and I stood side by side baking, listening to the carols (and singing along), turning to recipes older than either one of us.   

This year, my mother's forgotten how to bake.  She sits on the couch watching TV, only vaguely aware Christmas is almost here.  This year it was Nora and I who stood side by side and baked to the sound of Czech folk carols which she, of course, didn't understand a word of but it didn't matter.  It's all about the ritual.  About honouring that ritual and about bringing it forward to bloom into something new.

I think we did pretty well too.  Here's some of the cookies we made:

  Bear Paws in the making...
and Bear Paws finished
Butter Cookies with Home Made Jam 
 Little Moors 
 Coconut Puffs 

Anyway, whatever your tradition for this time of year is, I wish you and yours a splendid, peaceful, and holy Christmas (whatever your idea of "holy" may be).  Thanks for dropping in to visit. 

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