Monday, 19 December 2011
Yes Virginia . . .
I'm not sure why, but when I was a child I was absolutely terrified of Santa Claus. I don't even know when it started, but I do remember that every year the prospect of being taken to see Santa Claus struck fear into my very bones. I would go because my parents seemed to want me to go . . . but my knees would be shaking the whole time. I'd be ok afterwards, but right up to the point where I'd have to sit on his knee, I'd be so very afraid that I would be almost in tears.
(Jon and Josh, Christmas 2011. Jon doesn't look quite sure, but Josh is having a good time!)
And yet . . . I have a distinct memory of seeing his sleigh fly through the sky one Christmas that we were at my grandmothers. (The mind is a powerful thing.) It would have been the Christmas before my brother was born and I would have been 4 1/2 years old. My family had just returned from having lived in Germany and my father was getting ready to move out to Gimli, Manitoba. My sister and I were sharing a small bedroom upstairs at the back of my grandparents house and I remember looking out the window on Christmas Eve and seeing his sleigh up in the sky flying . . . or maybe it was just a really vivid dream. Probably the latter, but I'll never know for sure . . .
(Little Maryn giving Santa her list, Christmas 2011)
I was a believer for a very long time . . . I don't think it was until I was 10 that I really started to doubt what I'd been told. Oh, I had heard the rumours at school . . . the ones about him really being your parents . . . but I so didn't want to believe them. Then . . . my mother confirmed it . . . she told me it was true . . . he wasn't real. As terrified as I had been of that jolly old soul in the red suit, I still did not want to believe he wasn't real . . . and that was the year I heard his bells . . . I truly did. I can remember laying in bed that year and I heard him rustling around in the living room and I could hear his bells tinkling . . . once again the mind is a marvelous thing . . .
(Gabe and Luke visiting Santa 2010. It looks like Luke is a man after my own heart as he looks terrified as well!)
Christmas was never quite the same again after that. The magic seemed to be gone . . . that is until I grew up and had children of my own. There is nothing like a child's faith and belief in Santa Claus to bring the spirit of Christmas Magic into a home . . . the wide eyed wonder of a little child on Christmas morning as they step into the living room and see the Christmas tree all bedecked . . . with a load of presents beneath and a stocking filled to the brim and overflowing with goodies! I have never been able to understand how some parents can stay in bed on Christmas morning and let their kids get on with it by themselves. That is a part of the joy of Christmas . . . the seeing of your children's delighted faces, and hearing the squeals of joy as they open their gifts.
(Luke with his dad, our Anthony, a Santa to love.)
One thing that I do like to do each year is to sit and read the story of little Virginia Hanlon who wrote the New York Sun newspaper back in September of 1897 to inquire of it's editor if there really was a Santa Claus. I include his most wonderful and much beloved reply. It would not be Christmas without reading it at least once during the holidays.
"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
"115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET."
VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
I've done some Christmas Baking this weekend. I wanted to bring a few goodies to the sisters that I visit teach for the holidays. These are a favourite cookie of ours. Spicy crisp ginger snaps, dipped in creamy sweet white chocolate. Oh so delicious!
*White Chocolate Dipped Gingernuts*
What’s better than a gingernut biscuit? A white chocolate dipped gingernut biscuit! Bet you can’t eat just one!
¾ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
¼ cup molasses
2 cups plain flour
1 TBS ground ginger
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
2 TBS finely minced candied ginger
1 further cup of sugar for rolling
2 cups white chocolate chips
2 tsp butter
Pre-heat oven to 189*C/350*F. Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg and the syrup mixture, mixing in well. Sift together the flour, ginger, soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir in, mixing in well. Stir in the candied ginger.
Put the remaining 1 cup of sugar into a bowl. Shape tablespoon’s full of the cookie dough into round balls between the palms of your hand. Drop into the bowl of sugar and coat all over. Place 2 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheets.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until done. (Will look all crackly and be firm to the touch) Remove to racks to cool completely.
Melt the chocolate chips and the butter together. Dip one half of each ginger nut into the melted chocolate shaking off the excess. Place on wire racks covered with parchment paper to allow the chocolate to set and harden.
It's a cookie day today over in The English Kitchen too, scrummy Whipped Shortbreads!