Moments of happy...
1. Elving. Yes, I completely stole "Elving" from Gillian over at tales from a happy house, but it's the cutest and most appropriate title for my first "happy" from the last couple of weeks. And I did a lot of it. Many hours (and many episodes of Northern Exposure) holed up in my sewing room with a very curious little girl tapping on the outside of the door. "Mommy, what are you doing???" She knew perfectly well that Mrs. Claus was busy in her workshop, but this didn't stop her from checking up on me every so often. "Um, Mommy?" "Yes?" "Um...(long pause)....um,...I love you!" Funny little girl!
Emma and I had seen Alicia's Maggie Rabbit clothing patterns back when she first published them and ooo'd and aah'd and squealed over their cuteness. I purchased the yarn for these little items back in Texas before the move. I knew I would give these to Emma this Christmas. She was so surprised. She opened her gift, her eyes filled with tears, and I got the sweetest hug ever. Then she jumped up from the living room and dressed Bunny on the spot, never mind that she still had other gifts to open. Bunnies are just that important, you know?
2. This book. I might as well start this "happy" with "Pass the Kleenex." You may hate me for this one. This "happy" is heartwrenching. I discovered this book a couple of weeks before Christmas online, but it has been out of print for many years. I was able to track down a copy in Denver and had it transferred to my library in Steamboat. Based on a true story, The Day They Gave Babies Away tells the tale of a 12-year-old boy who, after the death of his parents, gives his five younger brothers and sisters away to carefully chosen families on Christmas Day. It's a short and simple read and well worth the effort to find. I'm sorry in advance.
3. That platter. A very sweet and sentimental gift from one of the most beautiful and dear ladies I know. I bring that platter out every Christmas and fill it with goodies. It warms my heart, makes me smile, and reminds me that I am loved. Thank you, dearest Susan!
4. These ornaments. I saw that black bear in the window of a shop in Old Town the very first week we moved here. I knew he would be hanging on our tree this Christmas. He came home with a little red fox. They were joined by a new ornament mailed from my sister: a picture of her Flower Girl, my Emma, standing by a Christmas tree at her wedding last year. Happy First Anniversary, Jeremy and Sharon!
5. Hot Chocolate! A Christmas package from Grandma. John's mom sent a box full of Christmas for everyone to open. It appears Grandma has been busy in her sewing room, too. She made the cutest table runner and coasters out of adorable "Hot Chocolate" fabric by Nancy Mink. I.love.this. I woke up the next morning to find John's coffee mug sitting on one of the coasters. "That one's mine," he said. "It's my favorite." Well, okay then. Good thing we chose different favorites.
6. Christmas Eve traditions. Snuggling under a Christmas quilt from Aunt Ann. The Polar Express. A platter of our very favorite-est chewy, fudgy brownie-like cookies: Cocoa Snowflakes. Cookies and milk for Santa. And, of course, "Hot Chocolate!" (Sing it like Tom Hanks.)
Adapted from Penzey's
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
5 T. butter
6 T. cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 large eggs
1/2 cup powdered sugar (for rolling dough)
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Add 1 cup sugar and mix well. Transfer cocoa mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add the vanilla and the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add the flour mixture and mix well. (The dough will be runny, but will firm up after chilling.) Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Form dough into 3/4" balls. (The dough will be quite sticky. It helps to powder-sugar your hands for this step.) Roll the dough balls in powdered sugar and place 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or a greased baking sheet). Bake for 8 minutes. (They will seem slightly underbaked. This is perfect!) Leave them on the baking sheet for one minute more and then remove cookies to cooling racks. Store in an airtight container to keep them chewy.
Yield: 40-60 cookies
***Note: The above recipe is the recipe I have used year after year at sea level. If you would like the same recipe adjusted for high altitude, you can find it in Chef Megan's 2013 Holiday Cookie Book. They are amazing!
7. An itty-bitty black bear. From my kids to me. They know that little red James Avery box will bring big happy smiles from me every time. A black bear! How wonderful is that? He will have to be added to my bracelet when we take our first return trip to Texas.
8. A White Christmas. A for-real-honest-to-goodness White Christmas! My very first. I walked upstairs from the basement after a session of elving and was greeted by our Christmas Tree all lit up, a fire in the fireplace, Bing Crosby crooning on I Heart Radio's Christmas Classics station, Holiday Aroma simmering away on the stove, drifts of snow outside my front door. I snapped a mental picture to freeze the moment and took it all in. Somebody pinch me.
The happiest people don't have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything.