What I miss most about the holiday season is having a little boy to share it with. I miss the letters to Santa and the trips to the post office to mail them -- which surprisingly enough were noted with a return card or note from Santa!
I miss searching for the toys on our son's Christmas list (always guaranteed to be the most popular or the hardest to find, like the green Power Ranger or Bubba Bear), and the look on his face when he found them under the tree on Christmas morning.
We still make Christmas cookies together every year as we have for the past 22 Christmases. The first one, six-week-old David sat in an infant seat on the counter and slept through it; the next one he sat in his high chair and threw cookie dough around the kitchen with a wooden spoon. I still enjoy baking cookies with my adult son, but I miss my little boy.
My mom was a talented seamstress who could create anything on her sewing machine, In addition, she crocheted and tatted (a craft that uses a shuttle and crochet thread to make lace).
The crafty and creative gene, however, apparently skipped a generation. My grandmother taught me to knit at a very young age and I can turn out fairly intricate sweaters if I want. But that's about it.
I discovered early in David's life that not only did he like doing crafts, he was really good at creating things. I bought craft books and magazines and scoured them for projects he could make -- or more honestly, projects whose directions I could understand and handle. Through the years, we accumulated enough craft supplies to fill a highboy dresser.
So it was only natural he wanted to make Christmas presents for the only "grandmothers" he knew -- his great-aunts Bebette and Min, Guy's aunt and my aunt, respectively.
The first years were a bit rough. He struggled at age 2 to make necklaces out of wooden beads the size of walnuts and strung on leather shoe lacing. The next year wasn't much better -- he used fabric paint to decorate sweatshirts for them. To their credit, and because they loved him so much, they proudly wore his creations.
The years went by and the creations grew in complexity. He crafted Victorian lamp-like candle and potpourri holders, really beautiful Christmas ornaments that looked like they were made of marble, and Christmas wreaths with a reindeer peeking through the center.
This tradition continued into his high school years, but took a turn toward food. Some of the best-received gifts were mixes he packaged in a canning jar, which he decorated and attached a card with the directions for use. I recommend a canning funnel to make the filling process easier.
2 1/4 cups sugar
2/3 cups cocoa
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Layer the ingredients in the order give into a wide-mouth 1-quart canning jar. (Wipe the inside of the jar with a paper towel after adding the cocoa layer.) Pack each layer in place before adding the next ingredient.
Top the jar with the lid. To decorate, cut fabric in 9-inch diameter circles and place on top of the lid. Screw down the jar ring to hold the fabric in place.
Attach a card with the mixing directions on the jar using yarn, ribbon or raffia:
Makes 24 bars
1 jar brownie mix
3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
4 eggs, slightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream the butter and eggs, Add the brownie mix and stir until the mixture is well blended. Spread batter into a lightly greased or sprayed 9x12-inch pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan. Cut into 2-inch squares.
Oatmeal Scotchie Bar Mix
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butterscotch baking chips
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt
Layer the ingredients in the order given into a wide-mouth 1-quart canning jar. Pack each layer in place before adding the next ingredient, and then continue as with the brownie mix jars.
Oatmeal Scotchie Bars
1 jar Oatmeal Scotchie Bar Mix
3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350° F. In a large bowl, cream the butter, eggs and vanilla, Add the Oatmeal Scotchie Bar mix and stir until the mixture is well blended. Spread batter into a lightly greased or sprayed 9x12-inch pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan. Cut into 2-inch squares.
Margaret Button is the city editor of the North Adams Transcript. Send recipes for inclusion in future columns to the North Adams Transcript, 85 Main St., Suite 2, North Adams, Mass. 01247 or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.