Archive for January 3, 2011

Christmas Passed…Or Did It?

How to Stay Warm Through a Minnesota Winter

When temps dip too low, my outdoor thermometer flatlines, as if to say, “You donwanna know.” On this first day of 2011, it is cold enough that my husband has trouble surfacing from the warmth of the quilted comforter, so I send little Muñeca in to keep him motivated. Her self-defined job description? To paw for a little petting attention and keep him from falling hopelessly back into a REM state. Soon I hear his gravel-voiced declaration, “She’s a big help in getting me up,” and peer in to see her snuggle-bugged up close to his side, her own eyelids heavy with sleep. 

As the mercury grunts its way up to 14°, the crunch of powdered sugar under my boots, the pup and I try our footing on the snow-frosted layer of ice that came down in one five-minute deluge on New Year’s Eve afternoon. The pup thinks better of it and heads back inside, while I trudge forth – if not smarter, at least hardier. But iced-over streets prove less of a challenge than the park paths, where planting my foot in the frozen imprint of a previous trekker is essential to staying upright and not breaking an ankle in the deep, crusted snow. Bundled in quilted outerwear, I must look like the Michelin Man on a tightrope. 

Meanwhile, the 40 percent of my mind that is not occupied with this balancing act idly marvels at the fact that the Christmas commercials that have plagued us for over two months are still jingling out their “buy me” messages a week after The Day itself has passed. As an antidote, I try to reconstruct the beautiful Oswald Chambers passage I read from the December 31st offering in My Utmost for His Highest. 

It seems that no matter how I hard I try to stay focused on the Real Reason for the season, a hustle and bustle atmosphere inevitably churns up around me as I rush to get baked goods into the mail for dear ones far from us and try to keep on schedule with seasonal projects that pile up on top of daily chores. But that Chambers’ entry haunts me, so I remind myself that the four weeks of Advent have led us directly into the brilliant illumination of the Epiphany season, and seek it out for a refresher read: 

“Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.” These two straightforward sentences put all the mainstream New Year’s resolution advice to certain shame. 

And I am definitely a New Year’s reformist, a believer in fresh starts. The very possibility of God guiding me to improve on (or build on) the week before delivers me into each Monday morning with a sense of hopeful enthusiasm. You can imagine what a thrill January 1st ignites in me. So I’ll cast only a quick glance back at Christmas Dinner Past before striding into 2011. 

Our celebration menu started with one of my (in)famous improvised punches, poetically labeled Kirhamshire Cranberry Shrub, followed by Butternut Squash Soup with Rye Toast Croutons, Sirloin Tip Roast with Sherry Pan Sauce, Sautéed Mushrooms and Onions, Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes, Green beans with Crumbled Bacon and Pine Nuts, Citrus-Avocado Salad, Tweed Popovers, Roasted Pear Wedges, and Red and Green Ice Cream Bombé with Assorted Christmas Cookies. (more…)

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January 3, 2011 at 11:17 pm Leave a comment


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