Monday, December 1, 2008


'Tis the season to be jolly . . . as the song goes. But we're not always feeling very jolly at holiday time. Maybe we're missing loved ones who have passed, or we have family members who won't be able to spend time with us during this special season. Perhaps our budgets won't allow us to buy the kind of presents we'd like to give our families. All of those are valid reasons to be unhappy at holiday time, but I've learned something over the years, and that is, we can always find a little happiness somewhere if we try. Sometimes we might need to dig deeply in order to find it, but joy is always there, waiting to be discovered.
I'm finding joy in simple things today. Yesterday my friend, Deanna, gave me a cookie mix she had put together, so today I baked Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies. After baking those, and since the oven was already heated, I decided to also make a batch of Peanut Butter Criss Cross Cookies. I had Christmas music playing while I baked and when I looked outside, I saw BIG snow flakes falling. What a great day to be inside, baking and singing along to my favorite carols.
This afternoon, Deanna shared the recipe for the cookie mix she'd given me. At first I thought she was kidding about the ingredients. Here's her recipe:
Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookie Mix
One box of chocolate cake mix
One cup peanut butter chips
(That's it !)
To bake cookies, add the following to the mix:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
Mix thoroughly and drop by rounded teaspoonsful onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350* for 14-16 minutes or until surface cracks. Cool and enjoy. Can you believe it's that easy? Makes about 2 dozen yummy cookies. Thank you Deanna!
I'm so thankful for my family, my dear friend, Deanna, and for my home. I'm thrilled to have a start on my holiday baking. I now have 4 dozen cookies in the freezer - and even have some for my spouse, who will most assuredly ask, "Where are mine?", once he realizes I've baked cookies.
Do something fun this season - even if you're already on the verge of "humbugging". Find some joy in each day. Bake a batch or two of cookies and take some to your neighbors. Your presentation doesn't have to be fancy. A sturdy paper plate covered in foil will do. Top the cookies with Saran wrap and a bow or ribbon and you have a yummy but inexpensive gift. If holiday baking seems like a daunting task, just do a little bit at a time. I'm going to make just one or two batches of cookies each time I bake this season. In years past, I've held marathon baking sessions during the last week before Christmas and that made me tired and cranky, plus I made a huge mess in the kitchen. Today I had baked my cookies, cleaned up my mess, and loaded the dishwasher, all within one hour. I was amazed!
Set out a few favorite decorations if you don't feel like putting out everything, then SIMPLIFY! If you don't have the energy or desire to decorate a full size tree, choose to put up a table top tree. Pare down your tree decorations and use only the ones that give you the most pleasure. Leave the others in the box for another year. One of the simplest and most inviting holiday decorations is greenery with white lights.
On those days when you feel overwhelmed by all you have yet to do, stop and rest for a few minutes or better yet, grab a warm cozy blanket and take a nap. Listen to some inspiring music or read some short stories. "Chicken Soup for the Soul" books are great for those times when you need to feel uplifted.
No matter how little energy or inspiration you might have this year, find your joy and celebrate!

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