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Sleigh Bells, the Big Guy and Finding Faith

Well, my darling MANhandlers, I have to say I would make a much larger effort to catch Santa coming down the chimney if he looked like this. Enjoy!

My parents are awesome on an epic level. I love them with a ferocity that defies basic description. It’s always been this way, even when I passed through the dreaded Teenager of Doom years. They are, quite frankly, amazing. But, because they are human and subject to human flaws, there were a handful of serious Parenting Fail moments growing up. The one I want to touch on was the day they told me Santa didn’t exist. I’ll never forget the moment. I had recently defended Santa to a classmate who insisted Santa was his dad and was bothered the classmate, Ryan McSomething-or-Other, proved so insistent. Jackass, right? That first forkful of crow was hard to get down. Here’s how it went down.

My parents were wheeling a small BMX bike up the front walk and I followed behind. (I’d been at a neighbor’s house while they were shopping.)
Mom: “Don’t tell your brother about the bike. It’s from Santa.”
Me: O_o … “Huh?”
Mom: “The bike. It’s from Santa. Don’t tell Andy.”
Me: “How is it from Santa?”
Mom: O_o … “You know we’re Santa.” (โ† statement of fact)
Me: (trembling chin) “You’reย what?”
Mom: “Santa. Your dad and I are Santa. You knew that.”
Me: …

This didn’t bode well for the Easter Bunny, and I knew it with that crystal clarity inherent to life-altering moments.

I suppose I was a wee bit cynical that Christmas. Oh, I didn’t blow it for my brother with a casual, “Everything we’ve ever believed is a lie.” No, I let him have his excitement and his moment of wonder as I sat back and smoked a cigarette and sipped my scotch and contemplated the meaning of life. Not really. (C’mon. I was, like, eight. I didn’t like scotch yet.) In my mind, the moment was captured something like this:

 

 

“Don’t mind me. I’m just sitting over here living a lie, thanks.”

 

 

 

But this was the moment a tradition was born. My parents pulled me aside and told me that, as long I continued to believe in the beautiful mystery of Santa and maintained the Christmas spirit, the jolly red-suited big guy would continue to visit — ad nauseum. I chose right then to give up drinking and smoking and simply hold out hope the ‘rents were telling the truth. I remember easing back into the moment and feeling a little of the Christmas spirit revive in me.

It became a holiday tradition that my brother and I would sit down at the tree on Christmas Eve and shake our presents, trying to guess what we’d be opening come morning and then we’d lay a little wager about what Santa would bring. When he moved to Florida this year, at age 36, I realized I wouldn’t have that. I’m going to miss it. That doesn’t mean I’m giving up on Santa, though. Nope. No way. I’ve even got my husband believing. We hang stockings every year and, lo and behold, they’re filled every Christmas morning and there are special presents for us, whether it’s around our tree or Mom and Dad’s.

Santa and I have come to a gradual understanding over the years. It’s pretty much: I get fantastic presents in exchange for faith based on cookies, time and tradition.

I can live with that.

Moravian Christmas Cookies

This may surprise some of you, but I am a CHRISTMAS NUT.

Nope, not religious. I’m talking the whole tacky ornament, Santa loving, Grinch adoring, stockings-and-ugly-sweaters kind of Christmas nut.

I ADORE Christmas. I love getting together with my family, giving them the most fabulous presents I can come up with, eating, cooking, laughing, and sneaking around playing Santa.

When I was little, my parents had to make a rule for me. We couldn’t open presents until 5:30am. That didn’t stop me getting up at 1:00, 2:30, 3:25, and 4:59.

Yeah. This is a lifelong condition.

So, it is with a sense of great jubilation that I share with you my single favorite Christmas cookie recipe.

OMNOMNOMNOM

OMNOMNOMNOM

 

Warning: These cookies taste like you just jammed a sleigh-full of delicious and spice into your mouth. Also, one batch makes about a trillion cookies. But, good news. The batter can stay refrigerated for up to two MONTHS. (not a typo.) Yay for liquor-laced cookie dough!!!

And, without further ado…

 

MORAVIAN CHRISTMAS COOKIES

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 cups Shortening

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed Dark Brown Sugar

A five pound bag of flour (you won’t use all this in the dough, but you will need the vast majority by the time you’re done. Think of the rolling out. These cookies are a commitment, but it’s like marrying an ancient billionaire. Pain in the hoo-ha for the short term, but CRAZY AWESOME later!!)

4 cups of Molasses

3/4 cup Brandy

2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

2 tablespoons Milk

1 teaspoon White Vinegar

2 tablespoons Cinnamon

2 tablespoons Nutmeg

2 tablespoons Cloves

1 tablespoon Ginger

 

Directions, in case you’re not scared enough now. IT’S WORTH IT!!

 

In a big bowl, mix together shortening, brown sugar, and 3 cups flour. Add molasses and brandy. In a separate bowl, dissolve baking soda in milk and mix in vinegar. Add to molasses batter with all the assorted spices. Now here’s where it becomes a workout. Add enough flour to make a stiff dough. Your arms will be exhausted, and you may give up too soon. That is okay. Refrigerate at least overnight, but up to two months! Liquorrrrrrrrrrrrrr. ๐Ÿ™‚

When you’re ready to bake, let a chunk of the dough come up to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. If your oven runs hot, you may want to knock it down to 260. You know your oven. I don’t. Moving on!

On a floured board roll out dough to 1/8 of an inch thick. If too sticky, add more flour. If too dry, add more dough. Cut 3 inch cookies. I recommend using parchment paper on your baking sheets, also, btw. Bake them for ten minutes total, the first five on the bottom rack, and the last five on the top rack. Remove and cool.

 

These cookies will turn you into a bakery, but they make your house smell of nutmeg and cinnamon and ginger and cloves. AMAZEBALLS. And the taste? They’re much better the next day. The spices ping your tongue. Yeah, so they’re a lot of work. Yeah, so they have about seventeen ingredients. THEY ARE SO WORTH IT.

 

Christmas is a commitment, people. Your December 25th can be just like every other day of your life, or it can be special. MINE WILL BE SPECIAL, DAMMIT!!

 

*omnomnomnomnomnom*

 

 

 

 

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