Joy to the world, the Lord has come!
I love Christmastime! It is a joyful time of year. In our Amish culture, we don’t celebrate Christmas exactly like our “English” friends, but we do keep Christmas as a remembrance of Jesus’s birth, and we have family gatherings with big meals and lots of time for fellowship or games. Christmas carols are sung, such as the old favorite, “Silent Night, Holy Night.” I’m so thankful that Jesus did not remain a baby in a manger but that He was willing to shed his blood for all mankind. All honor and glory to Him!
Christmastime is a wonderful time to gather around with family and friends. There is also a keen awareness, though, that for some people, this is a difficult time of year: people who are lonely or have lost a loved one. To those, let us offer our sympathy and loving thoughts.
My husband, David, and I moved out here to Flat Rock, Illinois, (from a large Amish community near Shreve, Ohio, about 30 minutes east of Mansfield) almost 20 years ago. Very seldom have we traveled back to Ohio to spend Christmas with family. Four hundred miles is too far to travel with a horse and buggy! But we are planning to go this year. How exciting! Daniel and Gloria hired a driver to take us. They have a wedding to attend also.
When I talked with my sister about our plans, she said that part of the Christmas Eve supper has been planned already. I think it sounds scrumptious! Sister Sharon had said she’ll make a large batch of three different kinds of stromboli: meat, deluxe and chicken bacon ranch (stay tuned for her recipe in a future column!).
They are also planning to set up a salad bar for the 46 or so who will attend. The salad bar will have lettuce with lots of toppings including sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, cheese, bacon, carrots, tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, hard-boiled eggs, onions, croutons, cottage cheese.
I plan to take cranberry salad along. I absolutely love salad bars. Do taste buds change as you get older? More and more, I like veggies and sweet-and-sour foods like three-bean salad. Maybe it’s partly because I am more health-minded than I used to be?
Dessert will be ice cream pies. These are pies made with a Rice Krispie crust and filled with ice cream.
After supper, a bingo game is played. A smorgasbord of unwrapped gifts will be on the table and whoever gets bingo will get to choose a gift. Then we go on again until eventually everyone has a gift (no one gets two).
Afterwards, I anticipate singing Christmas songs, too. One of my fondest memories of Christmastime as a little girl is going Christmas caroling with my siblings and our cousins who lived “just up the road from us.” We walked down our street and stopped at various homes singing as only children can, on porches, usually. One of my favorite songs was “Go Tell It On a Mountain,” and I remember being pleased that we sang the chorus with three-part harmony. Our cousins’ mother and my mom are sisters, and they passed down their love of singing to us children.
Years later, out here in Flat Rock, I gathered some neighbor children together, and we went from house to house singing carols. It makes for good memories. They still do that sometimes, and I’d like to go along again.
Another thing I enjoy this time of year is keeping in touch with family and friends by sending Christmas cards and newsletters (an update of what is happening in our life). With more than 30 cards to send, it’s too time consuming to write individual letters, so I make copies. Often I add several personal lines to each letter. I love to hear from friends, too. Mail time around Christmas is especially exciting!
A highlight for all of us over the years has been a Christmas box sent from my mom and dad. We all gather around to open the box filled with gifts and goodies. Can we imagine how the early settlers who traveled out west with wagon trains would have enjoyed such a box from “back home”?
May we all reflect upon the wonder, the true wonder, Jesus, at this Christmastime.
Here is the recipe for cranberry salad that I’ll be making for our Christmas Eve gathering. A friend gave it to me years ago. It is very refreshing!
1 box strawberry Jello
1 box black raspberry Jello
3 cups boiling water
5 unpeeled apples
1 cup cranberries
1 orange, peeled
1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple
1 cup white sugar
Dissolve Jello in boiling water. Then add cold water. Grind apples, cranberries and orange. Add crushed pineapple and sugar. When Jello begins to thicken, add fruit and mix well.
This is a recipe that will be on the menu for Christmas Eve snack time that I’d like to share. I buy the powders mentioned in the recipe at our local bulk food store.
CHEDDAR SEASONED SNACK MIX
2 pounds snack (suggestions: pretzels, teddy grahams, Ritz bits, pita chips, Life cereal squares)
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
5 tablespoons sour cream and onion powder
3 tablespoons cheddar cheese powder
Mix real well, then mix with snacks. Bake at 225 degrees for 45 minutes. Stir every 15 minutes.