Christmas Traditions


Some things are a Christmas tradition that have no basis in anything Christmassy whatsoever. For us that would be some of our cut out cookies. We have the traditional bells, trees, stars and snowmen but we also throw in buffalo, doves, pigs (we are in Iowa!), geese and jackrabbits. I am not sure how the animals became part of our tradition but they have been included for a long time.

Christmas is the only holiday that I really take the time to make cut out cookies. They are so time consuming to make as you have to mix the dough, chill the dough, roll out the dough, cut out shapes, roll again, cut some more, roll some more, cut again…repeat…repeat…repeat. It is a process that goes on and on till there is only a tiny little blob of dough left. I am grateful that my husband helps with this process!

While all this cutting and rolling is going on you are also baking cookie sheet after cookie sheet of cookies. I usually try to set the timer for each batch as I always tend to burn some of them. The ones I burn; are typically those on the last couple of cookie sheets. I am not sure if it is because I am too busy with the other cookies or just plain sick of cookies!

After all the baking they still need to be frosted. I will never win a cookie contest for looks with these cookies but they do taste good. Fortunately for me, my husband is more concerned about taste, texture and flavor than he is with presentation when it comes to food of any type.

The recipe I use is one I have used for years. It came from a co-worker from years ago and is always a favorite. The amount of dough may look meager but it really does go a long way.

Cut Out Cookies
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon soda

1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
1 cup butter (real)
2 eggs
4 tablespoons cream
1 teaspoon almond flavor
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cut butter into dry ingredients (like you do with making pie crust)
Add eggs, cream, and flavorings

Chill a few hours
Roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness
Cut with cookies cutters
Bake at 350º till edges are just brown
Frost with a powdered sugar frosting….I don’t actually have a recipe I follow for this.
I just put a couple cups of powdered sugar in a bowl,
add 1 tablespoon melted butter,
add 1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
then add milk a little at a time till you get a spreading consistency.

The only downfall to these cookies is that they do not last! I kind of think I tend to only make them for the holiday because then there are more people around to help eat them. If only my husband and I had to eat them we would probably end up in a sugar coma.

I am glad that my family looks beyond the looks of these cookies. The cookies are a good reminder that it is always good to look beyond what you can see. So many times, in so many circumstances there is so much more than what is visible.

The old saying about not judging a book by it’s cover is still so true today. To paraphrase it…don’t judge a cookie by it’s frosting! And definitely don’t judge people just by what you see.

Let’s take this weekend to really see, hear, and understand people and their circumstances. Let’s give a little grace to those we find hard to understand and let’s show some love to those who frustrate us. Let’s take the time to really taste those cookies instead of just looking at them.

Blessings to you all this weekend!

“Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating.
By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil
and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.” 

― Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship



“The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.”
–   William James  



Trees I Have Known

Black Hills, SD

The Black Hills, SD

I noticed that today the Daily Post had the word trees for their word prompt. This was a word prompt I thought I could actually write about.  I am not sure what it is about trees that is so fascinating but I really like…, I love trees.

I have discovered that through the years I have taken a lot of pictures of trees. Pictures of trees that are healthy and growing, pictures of trees that are in full leaf, pictures of trees that are majestic in all their twisted glory, pictures of trees as they aged, and pictures of trees from many angles.

Kansas Tree.JPG

I am wondering if my love of trees started as a kid. I loved reading books and sitting up in the branches of a tree seemed the perfect place to read a book……actually anywhere is probably the perfect place to read a book, but I digress.

My folks had two beautiful sugar maples in their front yard that had branches that were great for climbing. My siblings and I spent a lot of time sitting among the leaves. It did not seem too many years later and our kids were climbing those same trees. I am wondering how long before my grandkids decide to climb the one sugar maple that still stands in  my parent’s front yard.

My sons like to remember the tree house they built as kids. They positioned it between the round metal corn crib and a huge old elm tree that grew behind the grove; that made up our back yard. They scrounged around for nails, boards and anything else they could find for construction purposes. It got to the point that my husband painted his own tools yellow and another set red. The boys were allowed to only have the red tools…..if they were caught with yellow ones there was some trouble. The red tools consisted of hammers with broken off handles that my husband had repaired. They were kid sized with about 5 inch handles.

By the time we ventured out back to go check on the progress of this tree house (on the advice of their grandparents) it consisted of multiple platforms. To reach these platforms they had nailed 1″ x 4″ boards with many…..many short shingle nails. At most there was probably 1/2″ of nail that was biting into the bark to hold the board on the tree.  I think their theory might have been; if they had to use short nails……just use more. Theirs was definitely a quantity over quality mentality.  When a board fell off it kind of resembled a porcupine with all those nails sticking out.

After seeing that their top platform had reached the top of the corncrib it was strongly suggested (ordered) that they remove the top platform. I can still remember them mumbling under their breath that they should not have shown the grandparents their tree house. Unfortunately, I never took any pictures of this wondrous tree house. I have a feeling that was in the time frame that we did not have a working camera.

Many of my favorite pictures of trees are ones I have taken while on vacation. The trees at Gooseberry Falls State Park in Minnesota are beautiful due to time and weather twisting them into works of natural art.

There is a beauty in the twisted trunks, the exposed, sun-bleached roots and the tenacity in which these trees cling to life. How they manage to survive growing on what looks like rock is beyond me. They have survived generations of tourists who come to marvel at the landscape and will probably stand for many more.

Trees are a testament to life and a witness to us that if we hang on tight, are firmly rooted and don’t mind being a little twisted we will get through this life. We maybe won’t be in the same shape as when we started….in fact I am very sure we will not stay the same. I am, however, convinced that if we hang on and persevere, we too, will be a testament and witness to those around us and to those who come after.

“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.”
Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam