Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Advent Chaos

Advent is kind of a funny season. We try to pack so many things in--concerts and caroling and parties and baking and gift-giving. And then we complain about it being too commercial, too irreverent, too busy to stop and reflect as we think we should. Some people react to that by cutting out all the activity and focusing on Christ instead. This advent has seemed unusually off for us, as we've watched our dear friend endure chemo while she tries to also "make Christmas" for her small children.

But I think it's that tension between chaos and calm that best exemplifies Advent. After all, while we wait for a baby to be born or adopted we fill that time with activity--planning, getting a room and bed ready...the chaos of preparing room in our lives for another life. Mary herself traveled and visited and frantically looked for a place to have her baby. The birth of our Lord was anything but calm and serene--surrounded by dirt and animals and poverty and rough shepherds.

So this advent it feels appropriate to embrace the bustle. Yes, it's important to make time for contemplation. We need to prepare our hearts for the coming of our Savior. But I think it's also okay for everything to feel a bit chaotic. Maybe even sad at times. And definitely too busy. The mixture of pain and joy and activity that seems to be an integral part of this season is the true meaning of the Incarnation, after all--Jesus coming to be with us in all our sorrows and all our rejoicing. Peace on Earth and Good Will toward Men.

And so, today, I'm not going to feel guilty about the buzz around me. I'm going to work and bake and spend time with friends and plan parties for my children and their friends and live with the mess around me--a messy house and a messy world. I'm going to laugh and maybe even cry. I'm going to squeeze moments of contemplation out of the constant chaos around me, and I'm going to be content with all of that instead of wishing things could slow down. That is how I'm going to celebrate Advent this year.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Peppermint Cookies

On the spur of the moment, I decided to spend the day doing some Christmas baking to share with friends. It was so fun. An acquaintance recently gave me a recipe I had asked for a while back, so I added it to the list  for the day. And oh my goodness, it's now going in the notebook of "things I make every year"! So good...

Peppermint Cookies

1 c. butter (softened)
1 1/4 c. powdered sugar (divided)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/3 c. flour
1 c. rolled oats
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. crushed candy canes (divided)

Preheat oven to 325 F.
In large bowl with electric mixer, cream butter and 1 c. powdered sugar. Add vanilla. In another bowl stir together flour, oats, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture and blend thoroughly. Add 1/4 c. crushed peppermint and mix well.

Roll dough into 3/4 inch balls and roll in 1/4 c. powdered sugar. Place on cookie sheet 2 inches apart and flatten with a fork in criss-cross pattern. Sprinkle with peppermint candy. Bake 18-20 min.