Real Cooking

“This place is a mess,” my daughter uttered as she tiptoed through the living room, gingerly stepping over the exposed carpet tacking that bordered the entrance to her bedroom.

“I’m trying to think of it as progress,” I said, swinging the broom into action and making a cloud of Sheetrock dust rise behind me with every whisk.

“I know, I know. But what about Christmas? What about our tree-and our decorations?”

“Well, try to think of all this dust and debris as a light powdering of snow.”

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat.

December is here. How did that happen so fast? Maybe the recent temperate days have lulled me into thinking that wintertime was a long way off. But now Meg has asked a very pertinent question. What about Christmas? Just how are we going to handle the holidays with our house literally in ruins?

OK, Cheryl, now get a grip. Part of the walls and most of the ceiling are ripped off downstairs, and there is construction going on in the living room. The old carpet is all ripped up, and the new carpet isn’t scheduled to go down until sometime in January. The new addition needs its finish-work completed, and the entire house and all of its contents are coated with a fine film of dust that comes back every day as sure as the sun rises in the east.

And those who know about these things say to expect the dust to take a year to go completely away. Good news-yeah, right-for poor allergic Alex, who is currently getting by, thanks to daily doses of Clariton.

So. What do we do for Christmas? Streamline. Tree, yes. Decorations, no. Baking cookies, yes. Dinner parties, no.

But I told the kids they could have some friends over during their holiday break from school. What to do, what to do….

Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.

Yikes! When are we going to get our Christmas shopping done? I’ve got a job now and, looking at the calendar, it seems that every weekend is already filled with one or more activities that we’ve committed to. Maybe Keith could take more of an active role in this department.

Oh, but be careful. Remember the recent study that shows how shopping can be hazardous to men’s health? Remember how the test participants’ heart rates jumped and how their blood pressures rose and stayed elevated all day just because the men were asked to go into a shop and buy a plain, white T-shirt? That old “fight or flight” syndrome really did them in.

And then there’s the whole money issue. The study showed that women were more cautious shoppers and got more for their money than did the men.

“Men shop like they’re a member of a SWAT team,” the researchers had reported. “They go into a store with an objective and spend, on average, no more than 15 minutes in finding the desired item and purchasing it, while a woman will spend more time in comparing quality and cost.”

Maybe I shouldn’t put Keith at such risk. And with all of the remodeling costs, we need to watch every penny.

If you haven’t got a penny, then a ha’penny will do.

Oh, I want to get a child’s name from the Giving Tree. But I can’t seem to forget that powerful verse written in the book that Kathy Koop lent to me to read-the poem that came from the soul of a man who had known want and who was now ministering to those in need.

“(The churches) collect their castoffs from years gone by and deposit them on us outdated clothes that they wouldn’t be caught dead in anymore, old toys that need ‘just a little fixing.’

“We don’t even get to say what we want for our kids as they do (for their own children). What we ‘want’ is dictated by what they are willing to throw away.

“They do this to teach us about the love of Christ.”

I know that in Hillsboro, every effort is made to match a needy boy or girl with new toys and other presents that the child has requested and that the families are treated with respect. But the poem’s ending still haunts me into speculation.

“I’m angry that they always want to be a hero in my house-with my kids. Why can’t they help me get the gifts and be my own hero to my own family? I used to look forward to Christmas, now I’m trapped by it.”

Lord, let me be sensitive not just to the needs, but to the dignity of others.

If you haven’t got a ha’penny, then God bless you.

Take a deep breath, relax. Deep breath, relax. Oh (cough, cough), I think I’ve inhaled some sheet rock dust.

OK, Christmas is coming. So what if the tree is dusty? We’ll just say we put up a flocked tree this year. And the presents will somehow get taken care of. Wasn’t I just thinking how much easier it is with older kids in the house? And Grandma will make us a nice Christmas dinner with all of the trimmings.

This year, we might not be able to host any holiday get-togethers, but we’ll still get our fill of programs and parties. And as for the kid’s friends coming over-hey, I wonder if we could set up a tent in our empty living room and have a fireside campout.

Beside the dusty-I mean flocked-Christmas tree.

* * *

Taken from the book, If…A Big Word With the Poor, by Donald C. Bakely

* * *

Macadamia Candy

2 (3 oz.) jars macadamia nuts

1 (20 oz.) package white almond bark

3/4 cup coconut

Heat a dry skillet over medium heat. Toast nuts until slightly golden. Set aside. In a double boiler, melt the almond bark. As soon as the almond bark is melted, pour in the nuts and the coconut. Stir well. Place a piece of waxed paper onto a cookie sheet and pour candy on the paper, spread out. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set. Break into pieces to serve.

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