Category Archives: Christmas

A gathering of godmothers.

As I was scrubbing and shining the windows on a brisk afternoon, I made peace with myself over the tea party. Housemate Susan and I had planned one since the middle of Advent, but as the date grew closer the argument played in my mind, about whether it was ridiculous to take on another project right now, or perfectly sensible.

Now I knew it was worth it, because otherwise I don’t know when I’d have gotten around to the windows. And cleaning around the lower reaches of the kitchen, etc. The day before, I remembered that I like to use my vintage white napkins at tea parties, and I actually located them upstairs, where every room but Susan’s is dreadfully chaotic for reasons I’ll go into later. I ironed about ten soft cloths with help from a spray bottle of water infused with lemongrass oil. Happiness.

What about a centerpiece for the table? I was using my birds-and-forest table runner, which made me think to check by the creek for some berries and conifer branches, of which I brought home a bagful. All of that had been washed by rain, but was still fresh enough that not one berry fell off.

In the early stages of our idea, the party had been named a Godmother Party. I wanted very much to have the female members of Susan’s goddaughter Gigi’s family, and then it followed naturally to invite my three goddaughters who live in the area, and my godmother, and the godmother of my goddaughter’s sister… and so it went. Not everyone could come in the end, but it was a beautiful time. The little girls got to play outside in the playhouse a bit; the grownup ladies enjoyed a relaxing cup of Christmas tea, near the cheery fire of oak logs that Susan carefully tended. No rush.

Of tea, we had three pots full. “Joyous Jasmine” green tea came from Brewlette, a hipster sort of Indian source you can find on Facebook, in a gift pack from Kate. That was the most flowery, aromatic tea I have ever experienced.

We had a strong black tea from Russia, which came in this churchly tin, and another delicious and festive blend named “Nutcracker Rooibos” — The children drank that as it is caffeine-free.

Cookies, peanut brittle, mini-quiches, chocolates, fancy nuts, and thick slices of my dense Swedish sourdough rye, with plenty of butter. I haven’t mentioned yet the lemony Greek butter cookie twists that Susan made, but you can see below how cute they are.

‘Twas a Fifth Day of Christmas feast!

The height of the fall of God.

 

GLORIA IN PROFUNDIS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There has fallen on earth for a token
A god too great for the sky.
He has burst out of all things and broken
The bounds of eternity:
Into time and the terminal land
He has strayed like a thief or a lover,
For the wine of the world brims over,
Its splendour is spilt on the sand.

Who is proud when the heavens are humble,
Who mounts if the mountains fall,
If the fixed stars topple and tumble
And a deluge of love drowns all—
Who rears up his head for a crown,
Who holds up his will for a warrant,
Who strives with the starry torrent,
When all that is good goes down?

For in dread of such falling and failing
The fallen angels fell
Inverted in insolence, scaling
The hanging mountain of hell:
But unmeasured of plummet and rod
Too deep for their sight to scan,
Outrushing the fall of man
Is the height of the fall of God.

Glory to God in the Lowest
The spout of the stars in spate-
Where thunderbolt thinks to be slowest
And the lightning fears to be late:
As men dive for sunken gem
Pursuing, we hunt and hound it,
The fallen star has found it
In the cavern of Bethlehem.

~G.K. Chesterton

Almond Chocolate Macaroons

Of Christmas cookies, one of our family’s recent favorites — that is, in the last ten years — is this intense chewy marzipany one, the recipe for which I found on the website of the Odense company. When I use a different brand of paste that comes in an 8 oz. package, I just nibble a little to make it come out even.

ALMOND CHOCOLATE MACAROONS

1-7 oz box almond paste, grated
1 cup confectioners sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup cocoa, firmly packed [I don’t how one might pack cocoa]
2 tablespoons flour
Pinch salt
2 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For topping: 1/2 cup confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment.

Combine almond paste, 1 cup of the sugar, cocoa, flour and salt in a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer beat on a low speed until all ingredients are incorporated.

Add egg whites and vanilla. Beat on a high speed for 2-3 minutes, or until a smooth, shiny paste. *Cover and chill dough for one hour.

Add remaining confectioners sugar to a small bowl. Drop dough into sugar by a level tablespoon measure (not flatware) [I use flatware], or a lightly oiled cookie scoop. Quickly turn dough (it is sticky) to cover with sugar. Roll into a ball between palms and drop onto cookie sheets, 2 inches apart.

Bake for 16-18 minutes or until firm on top. Cool on wire rack. Store in an airtight container. Best if eaten within 3 days.  [Stored in the freezer or our cold garage they keep well for longer than this.]

The recipe says it makes 18 cookies, so I always mix up a double batch.

*Dough can be chilled for up to 24 hours. [I have saved it for days] Make sure it is covered well to avoid picking up refrigerator odors.

Merry Christmas Cookies to YOU!