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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Christmas Cooking/Baking (not recipes) (10/16/08)

TITLE: Love Comes With a Spoon
By Margaret Gass


I remember my very first care package in college. It was a box of Rock and Roll, my stepmother's version of "no-bake" cookies, that I first tasted when I met my dad's side of the family just one month earlier. I was thrilled, even though I couldn't say they were cookies when they arrived--the Texas sun and an apparently difficult trip by mail had morphed them into one solid piece of melted crumbs. I ate it anyway, licking the chocolate from my fingers,and called my dad and his wife to thank them for the treat. Almost immediately, I received another box--complete with a spoon! I had no idea what was yet to come...

My mom was a single mom at a time when that was an uncommon thing. She worked long hours to put food on the table, but she didn't cook, and she certainly didn't bake! My sister and I did the chores from a young age, and Mom trained us early to cook, at least from a box. Hamburger Helper, Spam, and Rice-a-Roni were staples, meals that Mom thought we could safely make without destroying the kitchen or hurting ourselves. I also made meatloaf and tuna casserole; my younger sister made macaroni and cheese and claimed all rights to baking chocolate chip cookies--I wasn't allowed to help. But Christmas baking of any kind did not exist at our house.

So when my Christmas care package arrived from Texas, I was unprepared. It was a BIG box, which thrilled the whole dorm, and contained cookies and candies I didn't even recognize. There were frosted sugar cookies with and without decorations of every shape and size, peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies, gingerbread cookies, haystacks, and pecan sandies. There was fudge, peanut brittle, chocolate-covered peanuts and divinity buried between the layers of cookies I can't name, and, at the very bottom of the box, five POUNDS of Rock and Roll, complete with spoon! I was overwhelmed...and I assumed that Dad was making up for being gone the first eighteen years of my life.

I was wrong. He was simply trying to include me in a family tradition. I spent the following Christmas in Gulfport, Mississippi, where Dad's family had moved. After picking me up at the airport, he brought me to the kitchen, which looked like a cross between Santa's workshop and the UPS store...boxes and bubble wrap were only slightly outnumbered by bakers and packers. I had arrived on divinity and fudge night, but it was apparent that that had been proceeded by days of baking. As soon as I got an apron, I was given the task of making Rock and Roll...for the fifty or so cookie trays which were being hand-delivered in addition to the gift boxes being mailed! It would have been a daunting task, were it not for the fact that I realized that I had been given a position of trust, and was fully accepted as a member of the family.

It turns out that Dad and his wife had their own "list" for Christmas, a list that was categorized by the likes, dislikes, and dietary considerations of their friends and family who were to receive these gifts of love. Only two things went into every box: the divinity and the Rock and Roll. Actually, there were three things in every box, because love was poured in when it seemed there was no more room.

Even now, I can't explain what an impression this effort made on me. These were simple gifts of consideration and sacrifice, given with the receiver in mind, with no expectation of anything in return. They weren't gifts of expediency or obligation, and they were often unexpected.

Most didn't expect the King that first Christmas. He wasn't obligated to come. Surely it would have been more convenient to stay in Heaven. But He had us in mind, and He considered our need. He sacrificed, and we received...the wonder of Christmas. Hope. Love. Life.

It would be three years before I attempted any Christmas baking. Baking became a time of bonding with my mom-in-law: she taught me how to make spritz cookies, and I showed her how to make peanut clusters. I traded plates with new friends I made, always tailoring the plate to fit the receiver...and always with my specialties--those peanut clusters and Rock and Roll. I could never give on the same level as my dad. Nor can I ever out-give Jesus. But I can give.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Amy Procter10/23/08
Loved your descriptions of the care pkgs! This story took me right back to college days...
And those "no bakes" are my all-time fave's.. we grew up baking them w/ my Mom.

A very enjoyable read!

p.s. And yes, we really are good bakers in Texas... ;-)
Joy Bach 10/23/08
What a delightful story. I can identify with the single mom having her children do the cooking. But the last paragraphs are the crux of the whole thing. Thanks for the reminder. Good job!
LaNaye Perkins10/24/08
I loved your entry for this week's challenge. You did a great job on this story and I enjoyed it very much. Keep up the good work.
Joshua Janoski10/25/08
Wow. This was a great story. One of my favorites in beginners this week! If you keep on writing like this, then I don't expect you to stay in beginners for long. :)

Your descriptions made me hungry, and I appreciate the lesson that you tucked in this as well.

Thank you for sharing this.
Connie Dixon10/30/08
Good job, Margaret. I loved your story and especially your last line. No we can't give like Jesus, but we can give....... Congratulations!