We have had an utterly delightful, Christmas-filled weekend and now it is coming to a sweet close as I am curled up by a blazing fire, 2 inches of fresh snow sit outside of my door, and a piping hot mug of spiked cider is sitting next to me so deliciously tempting that I must admit it is disappearing a bit too quickly. I expected to be at our fourth holiday party of the week this evening, but the snow has kept us nice and cozy inside. It's been a whirlwind of a few weeks, with the aforementioned number of parties and subsequent cooking assignments that they bring. It's truly delightful.
I love presents ... giving them, receiving them, making them! I've been into making presents a lot lately (mostly of the baked-good variety) but decided to branch out a bit for this season. So many parties, so many secret santas, so many gift exchanges. I decided to make one gigantic bowl of homemade hot chocolate mix and a big batch of homemade marshmallows and package them up like this:
So cute, no? I've been bitten by the very crafty bug lately ... I think it has something to do with being married. And watching the kids at church. Somehow the combination of the two makes me want to hot glue and stamp and ribbon and decorate to my heart's content.
Then there were chocolate-peppermint cupcakes for my work party ... I don't even like peppermint, but once I had the mental image of crushed candy canes sprinkled on white frosting, they simply had to be.
Pumpkin white chocolate cake balls and chocolate-dipped pretzels for our party with friend Priscilla:
Both of those were displayed in dishes inherited from my grandmother ... pretty glass plates, etched with holiday scenes. A little old-ladyish, I'll admit, but I couldn't help but smile and think how happy she would be that I was a grown-up now, using them the way she did. I'm still striving to live up to her legacy, and I pray that a little bit of her shines through me every day. I miss her so much.
And finally these gingerbread cookies, in their second iteration after I scraped off the cheating, fake, store-bought icing I had to use at the last minute yesterday. Today I experimented with homemade royal icing for the first time and though the party for which they were intended was canceled halfway through decorating them, I decided to finish anyway. Not sure what we'll use them for other than our own munching, but I thought they were pretty cute for a first try:
Our party last night was fabulous ... a table full of food, sweet friends old and new, and delicious spiked cider (recipe courtesy of friend Nate) and pomegranate martinis. We are incredibly, incredibly blessed by our church family and it was so joyful to celebrate this season with them. It is a season of Advent, of waiting, of sweet expectation.
I love this feeling of expectation and anticipation ... for the new year, the gifts, the celebrations, remembering the Advent of the Christ. I didn't grow up with the word "Advent." I never had an Advent calendar or a wreath or any of those traditions. It's relatively new to me, and I'm loving learning the rhythms of this season in a totally new way. There is a patience it demands that forces me to my knees (metaphorically) as I am so so far ahead of myself in so many ways, it demands me to sit and wait for Christ. And those are easy thoughts to have tonight, as I sit reflectively by my fire in my comfy cozy home next to a fire-drunk snuggly cat (Puff sits next to the fire and melts into a puddle of snuggles ... we call it fire-drunk). But in all seriousness, this week has not been marked my stress and fear and anxiety, as most of my cooking-heavy weeks are. I was cooking for sweet friends in a sweet season, where fear and anxiety have no place. It's Christmas, after all!
This perfect song is stuck in my head tonight ...
Fear not! Said he; for mighty dread
Had seized their troubled minds
Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind ...
All Glory be to God on high,
And to the earth be peace,
Goodwill hence forth from God to man
Begin and never cease.
Here is a very old video from the Behold the Lamb of God tour with the song ... it's stunning (the first 3 minutes are this song):
Let it sink into your soul and sit for awhile in this busy season. Remember that line ... Goodwill henceforth from God to man begin and never cease. That's what we celebrate now: Goodwill to us, from God, forever.