We had a simple, stripped down Christmas this year. (Thank goodness.) But I did attempt some baking. Last year, a friend gave me some house-shaped cake molds.
One of the houses came out cleanly:
|Gluten-free gingerbread cake with chopped candied ginger and powdered sugar snow.|
The other one. . .less so. At which point, it was 11 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and I decided that the only logical thing was to attempt to glue it together with cream cheese frosting.
Remember how I said that I don't bake much? The last time I had tried to make frosting, it went flat as a lake and turned into glaze. ("How can you mess up frosting? There must have been something wrong with the sugar," my mother said. Sure, let's go with that.) But this time, it actually became frosting, so I'm marking that as a success.
I knew the second house wasn't remotely pretty, but I was still a little shocked when Mom said, "Oh, what a cute chimney."
|That's a tree, Mom. Obviously.|
This year, my church's Advent sermon series was titled "Simply Jesus." I wrote a poem for the series that was handed out at our five o'clock service.
|A small Christmas gift to the other members of Gateway Fellowship.|
I realize that (unless you are Orthodox) we are well into the post-Christmas season now, but I've included the poem below for those who are curious.
Don’t misunderstand, I love
the ridiculous ritual
of it all: the maudlin movies, the bell-song,
the scent of cinnamon and cloves, the way everything
is red and green and glitter
until your eyes water. The trouble
lies under the glitz and the gilt,
near the core of Christmas: a human poverty, the empty ache
that called the riches of Heaven
down to earth. The trouble is I know
there will never be enough
in my checkbook to give
the people I love the gifts they need most.
So the ache in me prays for the ache you:
May you receive a spark of courage
to light the woods ahead of you
in dark months. May you find a peace
to wrap around your head like an oversized
scarf, blocking out the cold and anxious wind.
May you maintain that stubborn flame of joy
we find in the Beatitudes: “happy are. . .
the poor in spirit, the ones who mourn, the meek,
the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers,
and the persecuted.” May all your God-given hungers—
for food, for safety and shelter, for love, for justice, and for family—
be filled. May you find your people this year,
your place of belonging, and may you discover
forgiveness for those who once ignored your worth.
May your heart not just be a cup
waiting to be filled, but a channel
that spills into the thirsty world. May you give
as you have received. And may the gift
that stays the closest to your
heart be the one that first arrived
without receipt or ribbon, tagged
for the world God so loved
with Heaven’s brightest beam and wrapped,
by human hands, in simple