A couple of weeks ago, Melinda’s 94 year young grandmother passed away. I went to the funeral with my dear friend Laura. We laughed and cried as we heard funny stories about Grandma Butters. As we listened to grandchildren, aunts and uncles talk about their mother and grandmother, I was touched to hear over and over again that she taught them:
“People are more important than things“.
I’ve thought a lot about that the past couple of weeks. You know how we all get so caught up in the festive part of Christmas. I do. Decorate, decorate, clean, cook, shop, shop, shop. Wrap, mail, wrap. Some years by the time the 25th rolls around I want to shout Hallelujah! And not because we are celebrating the birth of Christ. Sad 🙁
“It” all started a little early this year. Thanksgiving was wonderful. Always is. I love the holiday that celebrates giving thanks. I don’t ever put up Christmas decor until after Thanksgiving. No Christmas music or movies allowed until after the turkey dinner is over and tucked in the fridge for leftovers at our house. Oh-side note- last week…Grant had surgery on his foot. Major. Five hours of surgery. Took a bone out of his pelvis, yes his pelvis, to repair his foot. He now has 3 pins in his toes and is motoring around on a “knee-cruiser” and crutches for 8-10 weeks. I would post a pic, but trust me you don’t want to go there. Especially on a food blog.
So I got a little anxious when I started thinking about all I have to do before Christmas. The surgery and trying to be a good nurse to a bad patient set me back a bit. December hit: Hurry- get the tree up. Get the decor out. The Christmas card isn’t done yet. Not one present purchased. Hang the outside lights. Mail presents out of state. Forget mailing, buying the presents first – good idea. YIKES. Can you feel the stress building?
Then I remember Grandma Butters. And my friend Laura, who sat next to me at the funeral. Laura, and her husband Eric are special people. Parents of six children, and one unruly dog named Brutus. We have known Laura and Eric for 15 years. Shortly after we moved to Bountiful, their youngest daughter Sarah passed away. Then seven years ago, their oldest son, Bubba died. Through all of their heartache, they have figured out what I am still striving to learn. The Grandma Butters lesson. When my oldest daughter Corrine was sick for about 3 months in her early teen years, Laura stopped by regularly to talk to her and see how she was doing. No cookies (cooking? uhh. let’s say this is her one deficiency) or flowers in hand, just a warm heart and listening ear. Laura was a lifeline for Corrine. Laura has a gift for making people feel like they are the most important person in the world. She always has time for her family and friends. And everyone is her friend. Seriously. Anyone who knows her, knows she loves them.
So what’s the point of all of this rambling? As I started in a frenzy to put up the decor, and make 40 different lists of things to do, I asked myself, if people are more important than things, and I don’t have time to do everything, what is most important?
Taking out the Santa and Angel collections- no.
Taking out the nativity collections – yes.
Black Friday – no.
Lunch with someone I love – yes.
Baking for someone I love? yes. I’m axing some trivial traditions. But keeping those that have special meaning to my family. And making more time for people I love.
Baking, of course, made the “cut” so I started out with this yummy gingerbread cookie recipe. Tweaked it a bit and added some fresh grated lemon zest. I must say, it is the best gingerbread cookie recipe ever. Not too sweet, or spicy. The molasses doesn’t overpower the flavor of the cookie.
It’s the 4th of December. Sit yourself down. Ask yourself, What Matters Most? (love this short message). Trim down your list and give yourself the gift of peace. And love. And sanity. Take time to tell those you love –
“I love you”.
Note to me: Remember, people are more important than things.
Lemon Gingerbread Cookies
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup shortening (Butter Flavor Crisco)
1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
3/4 cup molasses
grated zest of 1 lemon
Cream together shortening, brown sugar, spices and salt. Add the eggs and mix thoroughly. Add molasses and grated lemon zest and blend. Mix the flour, soda, baking powder and add to the molasses mixture. Stir well until all of the dough is mixed well. Divide the dough into four portions and wrap each portion in plastic wrap or waxed paper. Chill for at least one hour.
When ready to bake, roll out dough onto generously floured surface. Flour the rolling pin as well.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Work with one piece at a time. Keep the other pieces wrapped and cooled until ready to roll out. Roll out 1/4 to 3/8 inches thick depending on how thick or thin and crispy you want your cookies. Cut with gingerbread or other shapes of your choice.
Bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet. For thin and crispy, roll thin and bake for about 8-10 minutes. For a slightly thicker cookie, roll to about 3/8 inch, cut and bake for about 6-8 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheet. Remove, let cool completely before frosting.
White Decorator Frosting:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Whisk together, until smooth. Spoon mixture into a pastry bag, fitted with a small tip. Decorate cookies as desired. Or make a simple white frosting and frost the entire cookie and decorate with sprinkles.
-Don’t worry about adding flour when rolling out. These do not get tough when extra flour is added.
-You can roll the dough thin or thicker for a soft or crispy cookie.