There are so many things that make Christmas what it is for me. It's definitely not going out to department stores jammed with holiday traffic, blaring Christmas music favorites over the speaker, or the giant paper snowflakes hanging from the ceilings in Target...(although the latter might be a little special;) And it is most certainly not the chaotic commercialism of it all. What really makes it special for me is all the little things that our culture can't quite turn into a billboard or ad. Like the look on peoples faces as they open a really special gift, the scraping together all your savings for gifts, spending it all and not even caring. Or the smell of my absolute favorite Christmas cookie-Scandinavian Almond Bars- in the oven. Or when you sit by the tree with an extra good cup of cocoa and listen to the Cambridge Singers Christmas album.
But all these little things are so tiny in comparison to the ultimate purpose of Christmas. It is so easy to get sidetracked and swept away with the millions of other Americans who have lost their grasp on why we're even celebrating Christmas anymore. The ones who honestly believe it's all about Santa, Rudolph, and the Elves of the North Pole (no hard feelings guys, I like them too:) So just remember why we're able to have this wonderfully amazing holiday---it's not because Santa finished all his gift orders in time, but because Jesus Christ was born on earth, born of a virgin in a lowly stable in Bethlehem. And that is why it is so special for me. As easy as it is to focus only on giving and receiving, don't forget the why you're really celebrating this year.
Scandinavian Almond Bars (A must try!!!)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon 2% milk
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds, chopped
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 to 2 tablespoons 2% milk
- In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
- Beat in egg and extract. Combine dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture and mix well.
- Divide dough into fourths; form into 12-in. x 3-in. rectangles. Place 5 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Brush with milk; sprinkle with almonds.
- Bake at 325° for 18-20 minutes or until firm to the touch and edges are lightly browned. Cool on pans for 5 minutes, then cut diagonally into 1-in. slices. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
- In a small bowl, combine the confectioner's sugar, extract and enough milk to achieve desired consistency; drizzle over bars. Yield: about 4 dozen.