10 Things I Love About Christmas

I love Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Except that it’s cold, there sometimes snow-blech, my family LONGS for this miserable snow stuff, and I have the ever-present gifts vs. time vs. money vs. moral-opposition-to-materialism (I’m actually pretty good one this, but it would be fun to think of money a bit less and fun a bit more).

Now here is the good stuff. My favorite things about Christmas.Elizabeth with santa

1. Santa. I LOVE seeing Santa!! Sometimes up to 4 times a year. I just think this is so fun and it brings back happy memories from my own childhood when Santa, the real one!, used to show up at my grandparents’ annual pre-Christmas party.

2. The tree. I would say decorating in general, but outside, as I said, it’s cold. And I have a lot of little kids and seemingly no surface areas. So I don’t do much decorating other than the tree. But the tree is a bit of joy to me every time I look at it.

3. The lights. In town, store windows, even our doctor’s office has a 12 foot tree. Enjoying other people’s decorations is a fun treat, especially if you’re lucky enough to have someone nearby with a choreographed light show and radio display.WP_000987

4. The stories. We read special books and enjoy the Christmas cheer shared in our favorite magazines. A Christmas Carol and The Night Before Christmas along with the story of Jesus’ birth.

5. The music. Around here we love our Christmas music. We usually go through a spell of a month or mid-summer and are ready to hear it full-time again by the end of November.

6. The movies. We also love us Christmas movies. The sappiest love stories, the heart-warming-est childhood tales, and you can bank on a happy ending. We have 10 or so versions of A Christmas Carol and a whole host of annual favorites.
The movie industry also lets out some great blockbusters this time of year, think Lord of the Rings trilogy. This year we’ve seen Breaking Dawn (so exciting for a Twilight Head), and The Rise of the Guardians (I completely enjoyed this flick, but sadly didn’t see it in 3D. This is a stellar 3D opportunity). Wreck-It Ralph had to be put on the “buy the disc” list, but we’re looking forward to it. And The Hobbit is scheduled for date night—woohoo. Movies of Christmas and movies at Christmas neither can be beat.

7. The presents. I love making gift list ideas, shopping for said gifts, perusing Pinterest and the internet for gift-spiration. I enjoy shopping with my husband; this about the only time of year that we actually enjoy shopping together and one or the other of us gets cranky. I also love helping my kids shop for that special gift. We draw names for a “secret santa” that isn’t so secret in our immediate family. This keeps costs down and helps my kids focus on gift selection. I also like the wrapping when I don’t forget how fun it is and get all mom-scroogey.

8. The goodwill toward men. There are always get-togethers and parties. And people are often more inclined to spend time visiting. I have more conversations at the post office or running into people around town than I think I do any other time of year.
I like feeling happy and hopeful. I like having a constant reminder to be especially kind and loving. I love serving and giving to charities this time of year. And I like feeling goodwill from others.

9. The food. How could I not mention the food? It’s fabulous! Feasting, frosting, Fudge. Cookie exchanges. Gingerbread houses. My dad brought over a case of oranges the other day. It’s bonding, sharing, fun and yum. What could be better?

10. the anticipation. One of the best things about Christmas is the excitement.

Okay, so maybe list seems shallow. But under everything listed above is love. We share love at Christmas through our baking, and gift giving, and making things special for a child. Love is what our Savior stands for: charity, selflessness, gratitude. So Rejoice. The Lord is King. And enjoy those around you at this time of celebration.

And in the words of tiny Tim: “God Bless us every one!”


Papaya Bread–12 weeks of Christmas Treats

papayaI received a papaya in my Bountiful Basket last week and didn’t know exactly what I’d do with it. But experience has taught me that the best way to get unfamiliar fruit eaten at my house is to bake it up as a quick bread. I wasn’t sure this was possible for papaya. But I checked and VOILA!

I enjoyed this bread more than anyone, because it reminded me of the fruitcake my grandmother used to make every year. As a youngster, I wasn’t fond of fruitcake. I didn’t like those big old candied cherry chunks. But over the year I came to appreciate my grandma’s fruitcake as much for the flavor as for the love and effort I knew she put into this annual endeavor.

I had a couple of my unwilling participants ask for no walnuts. I also have a boy who doesn’t like raisins, but I didn’t make a special raisin-free loaf just for him, because I didn’t really think he’d like the bread anyway. He did like it though *fall on the floor in shock* when I broke off a piece without raisins.

I recommend keeping the raisins and the nuts. Together they added to the overall fruitcake-like experience. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did, and be sure to hope over the Meal Planning Magic, out blog hop host, or follow the links at the bottom of this post for more great baking ideas.

Papaya Bread

makes 2 loaves; oven 350°

2 cups shredded papaya—I halved it lengthwise, scooped out the seeds, peeled it with a potato peeler, split each half lengthwise again and shredded the meat with my handheld box grater. Then I drained it by squeezing inside a washcloth and leaving it in my colander till I was ready to add it to the bread. If you end up with a little more than 2 cups, just use it all anyway.

Beat together: 1 cup oil, 2 cup sugar, 4 eggs

Add dry ingredients: 3 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon each salt, cinnamon, and ginger, ½ teaspoon allspice

Stir in the shredded papaya, along with 1 cup raisins and 1 cup chopped walnuts

Divide into 2 greased and floured loaf pans. Bake for an hour or more till a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. This was a little crumbly when I cut it. So do whatever trick you have to make pretty slices.

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