With the Christmas season in full swing, it is interesting to read all the articles that are coming out about how to cure depression, manage your time during Christmas, watch out for the Christmas blues.... It must surely be a problem with all the ink that has been devoted to helping you solve these problems.
One of the things that seems to be important during Christmas is to take the time to slow down and appreciate those around you. I am not sure happiness can be found in racing from store to store in hopes of finding just the right toy or the right video game. What seems to please even more is the ability to give something which will represent your efforts and your caring. While our children are growing up, we can all remember that special gift that came out of our woodshop, whether it be a letter opener or jewelry box or a cedar chest. The fact that it was made with your children's own hands represents something special to us. The same goes for the tree ornaments or ceramics the child created at church or in the elementary grades.
For me, Christmas is a time to bake bread and give it away. It is a time to share that small present or gift that has little monetary value but says to the receiver that they are valued. It was especially rewarding years ago, when I started my annual bread-baking spree, the oldest son asked if he could help. Only too gladly I let him stir the batter for 200 strokes, then poured on more flour while he complained about his arm getting tired. Next came the kneading; we dumped the dough out on the counter and showered the dough with flour and kneaded it so it would rise properly.
After the first rising, we broke the dough down again and placed it in several small pans and let it rise. As we started around 7 p.m., we were now having a close race as to whether we would be finished by bedtime. But, at a quarter till ten, the aroma started drifting from the kitchen, and we went to retrieve the loaves from the oven.
The first loaf disappeared as if by magic. I immediately sliced both ends off the loaf so I could eat the crusty sides. The rest of the family dove into the middle.
Take the time to develop a family tradition, whether it is baking bread, decorating the tree, or cracking pecans. The joy and love of family and that time of caring represent the true meaning of Christmas, more than all the lights and decorated stores will ever do.