Christmas Expectations

Isa, Monana, &Tuscan Cornish Hen

Christmas Expectations.
Note: My mother’s almond cookies can be found at the end.
Happy Holidays!

I gave my granddaughter tickets to Disney on Ice: Frozen two months ago for her birthday. The day of the event, I received a phone call from her mother, my daughter Ashley. The night before, she couldn’t find Brenley. At last, she located her in her bedroom. The girl was a bit fretful.

When asked what was wrong, she said, “I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR TOMORROW. I don’t have anything blue that looks like the movie Frozen. Monana and I are going out to eat (I told her we were going to Whole Foods to get a salad and a slice of pizza) and I need to dress up!!”

I know you get the picture. Me . . . Whole foods . . . dressing up. It would have been funny if she hadn’t been so unhappy. She and her mama worked hard and found a classy black glitter outfit with leggings AND Tinkerbelle socks. A crisis was averted.

My daughter’s phone call reminded me of how IMPORTANT events can become . . . not to just children, but adults, as well. We place such high expectations on having the perfect Thanksgiving, the perfect Anniversary, the perfect Vacation, the perfect Birthday. More often than not times, our hopes are dashed or at least they don’t live up to their billing.

I began to rethink the evening. I have taken Ashley’s children to Disney on Ice since the oldest was four. I had forgotten that this was a special event—the first totally “let’s go somewhere with Monana . . . just you-me, you-me” for Brenley.

This wasn’t about spending the afternoon cookiing with me, which is what comprises most of our you-me moments. My chest tightened; I began to get nervous. I know that my granddaughter will face disappointing experiences in her life, ones that fall short of her expectations. I just didn’t want Disney on Ice: Frozen to be one of them.

This event had really been hyped (sort of like Christmas). There were commercials on television. Brenley would call in Mama to see: “You need to watch this since you aren’t going. It is just ME and Monana. You will have to stay here.”

Friday afternoon, I drove to her house. Turns out, she wore her outfit to school so she would be ready when I came to pick her up. For my part, I put on make-up, perfume, and dressed in something sort of festive. Alas, I didn’t have anything blue and sparkly.

We drove to Greensboro, shared a salad and cookies at Whole Foods and then arrived at the coliseum and found a great park. So far, so good.

The event was Disney-esque. Quite magical. The sets, the music, the skaters . . . the performance was flawless. Even the families around us were friendly and engaging. We all conversed and took photos of each other.

Dishey on Ice: Frozen

The most amazing part was the continuous sing-a-long. Everyone in the sold out crowd knew most of the words to most of the songs. Brenley’s and my favorite audience participant was a little 3 year old who, dressed as Elsa the Queen of Arendelle, sat right behind us. After the concert, Brenley called her mom to say “that girl knew the words to every song . . . even the BOY songs.”

Why am I sharing this intimate story with you? Two reasons: 1) to remind us adults that some events mean a great deal to our young children. They can become larger than life. Although we can’t prevent them from disappointments, perhaps we can at least not make ourselves part of the problem. I found that if I shifted my attitude—seeing the trek to Whole Foods and Disney on Ice as a first time experience—not only did I have more fun, so did Brenley.

My advice: . . . jump into the Christmas festivities: caroling, feeding the poor, seeing the Casville Christmas lights—as if you were experiencing them for the first time. For your children, it will be.

When I was 11, I heard the pianist Van Cliburn for the first time LIVE in a concert hall. I was totally and completely emotionally overcome by his talent and the music. Afterwards, there was a private party (his mother was a friend of my aunt’s) and I shook hands with THE Van Cliburn. His massive hands with their long delicate fingers (he was one of the few pianists who could play Franz Liszt’s works as written) enveloped my small hand as he said . . . . I have no idea what he said. I had one goal: not to cry, fall down, and worship at his feet. I returned home fueled with the desire to learn Listz’s “Hungarian Rhapsody,” which I did and played for the final recital of my life. It was THE perfect evening. No altercations with my mother; I was dressed appropriately; I didn’t hate my body back then. It was . . . perfect.

What I wish for you and yours this Christmas is a perfect moment. I am not referring to the entire holiday season, since there will be crying kids, bickering siblings, and twenty-year grudges rekindled at Christmas. Let’s start small. Perhaps it is the holding of a hand during a genuine pre-dinner prayer that comes from the heart. Maybe it will be a warm conversation out on the deck with someone you have trouble connecting. Maybe it will be the memories that come alive when you taste a crème-filled cookie that your mother made when you were a small child. Find that perfect moment and hold it like the jewel it is. That . . . is Christmas.

cream filled cookies

Royce’s Almond Cream Cookies.

Because you have been so good this year, I am sharing with just you and no one else, my mother’s cream cookies, which she made once a year at Christmas time..

In medium bowl, thoroughly mix together 1 c. soft butter, 1/3 c. heavy cream, and 2 c. flour. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350. Roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into 1 — 1 1/2-inch rounds. Sprinkle heavily with extra-fine granulated sugar. Place on ungreased baking sheet and prick in 4 places with fork tines. Bake 8-11 minutes or until slightly puffy. Put 2 cooled cookies together with creamy butter filling.

To make filling blend together ½ c. soft butter, 1 ½ cups sifted confectioners sugar, and a couple of drops of almond flavoring.