A few of my favorite (Christmas) things

Merry Christmas to all, from That Book Lady Blog!

In honor of this special day, I want to share with you some of the things I enjoy most this time of year.

Favorite book

33233979.jpgWhen I was little, my mom ordered “A Story a Day ‘Til Christmas” from the Current catalog. For several years, it was a tradition at our house to read a story from the book each night beginning Dec. 1.

This compilation includes a great variety of funny and heartfelt, old-fashioned and contemporary tales. I’m sure it is out of print, but if you ever find it on ebay, at a garage sale, etc., snap it up! It’s a treasure.

Favorite treat

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From left are my half-brother Josh, my grandma and my mom decorating ammonia cookies in 1985. I’m in here, too … my due date was Christmas but I arrived exactly two weeks after Christmas Eve.

My grandma, when she was in better health, made Christmas so very special for our

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And here I am 10 Christmases after the above photo, showing off a fully-decorated batch of ammonia cookies.

family. Most notably, she was a prolific baker and confectioner who cranked out more goodies than we could possibly eat on our own – that’s because she would make up plates to take to friends, neighbors and shut-ins. She has such a generous spirit.

 

Grandma made perfect divinity – a rich little candy that is very difficult to make! I have tried storebought divinity, and like anything else, homemade wins.

She’s also famous for her ammonia cookies. Yes, ammonia cookies. These aren’t the kind you eat plain, and you definitely have to add a flavor extract to the dough. Bottom line is, they are much easier to decorate than sugar cookies.

My aunt made some a couple of years ago, and tasting them took me back in time. She gave me the recipe and a little vial of baker’s ammonia, but I have yet to make a batch myself. Part of me feels like they just won’t stand up to Grandma’s.

 

Favorite memory

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From left are yours truly (a bit under the weather), Mom, the best Christmas gift ever, and Daddy, on Christmas 1991. This was the moment I first laid eyes on the sweet girl who would be my best friend for the next 15 years.

Around this time 25 years ago (where has the time gone?!), I was curled up in my grandparents’ spare bedroom, running a fever. Being sick during the holidays is a huge bummer, and to a 5-year-old, it’s like the end of the world!

I was out cold when my dad and cousin Jackie drove to a nearby small town, where my parents had picked out the Christmas gift I’d been longing for since we’d lost our beloved Australian shepherd mix (whom I considered “my” first pet even though my mom had picked her from a litter of puppies several years before I was born). I was supposed to go with them, but I was too sick to make the trip.

That chilly afternoon, Mom roused me from my sleep to tell me she had a surprise for me. She carried me into my grandparents’ kitchen, and I looked out the window to see my dad and cousin entering the screened-in patio. My dad was carrying a bundle in his arms … was I dreaming? Could it be?

The jingle bells on the kitchen door signaled the arrival of my new best friend: a Cocker spaniel whom I’d already named Allison before I’d ever laid eyes on her. She was perfect … those soft brown eyes, that wet nose, and those floppy velvet ears nearly made me forget I was sick, and would continue to comfort me for 15 years.

To this day, I can never thank my parents enough for bringing Allison into our family.

 

Favorite movie

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Killing a little time before a performance.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” has become more near and dear to me over the years. My grandparents used to watch it on TV every single year (my grandma says it’s her favorite movie), and I’ve gained a better appreciation for it as I’ve gotten older.
As I’ve mentioned before, earlier this month I had the opportunity to portray Mary (Hatch) Bailey in a radio theater version of the movie. Having watched the film nearly every year certainly prepared me for the role!

 

 

 

Favorite album

In 1997, I begged my parents to get me Hanson’s Christmas CD, “Snowed In.” Mom was Hanson-Snowed_In.jpgsure I’d be over them by Christmas 1998 and told me to wait until then.

Well, two years later I was still into Hanson. And I finally bought “Snowed In” myself. From the opening chords of “Merry Christmas Baby” to the last harmonic notes of “White Christmas,” it just puts a smile on my face.

Hanson just finished recording a new Christmas album set for release in 2017 … what I’ve heard so far sounds amazing!

 

Here’s wishing you and yours a beautiful and blessed Christmas!

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