Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Cooking/Baking (not recipes) (10/16/08)
TITLE: An Act of Worship
By Chris Miller
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“Hang on, Sweet Pea,” Grandma Alice chuckled. “We’ll make as many stars as you want. Just be careful; I don’t want you to fall.” She placed a steady hand around her waist but couldn’t resist a big kiss and squeeze.
Grandma reached behind the flour canister and produced a box of shiny, metal red-handled cookie cutters. Her own mother had bought this festive set at a local dime store when she was just a little girl. She liked all the shapes but the star was her favorite as well.
About the beginning of December, Alice had always looked forward to the Saturday when Mama would mix up all the special ingredients to make cut out cookies. She’d let her pick out the food coloring to create her own personal concoction of frosting. Daddy would laugh at the bluish colors she’d come up with, but he’d eat them just the same, even if they were covered with a thick coat of red and green sprinkles.
Fifty-five years later, Alice still cherished the tradition of breaking out the flour, sugar, and baking utensils. Nothing made Christmas seem so special as rolling out and cutting stars, trees, and bells with her five-year-old grand daughter. It didn’t matter if white clouds of ingredients were coating all the counters and floor. That would clean up later. Right now, memories in the making were all that mattered.
“Gamma, tell me again about the star, the one in Bethlehem.” Molly had always enjoyed listening to Bible stories, even though her own parents didn’t appreciate hearing them. Alice’s one sorrow was that her daughter Sarah hadn’t shared in the magic of Christmas. Sure, she bought Molly lots of toys from Santa Claus, but the true meaning was left unspoken and forgotten. Whenever she had the opportunity, Sarah brought Jesus into their conversations. Molly was like a sponge and soaked up the Christmas story with little coaxing.
“Well, Molly. The star shone above the stable where baby Jesus lay. The three kings traveled on their camels from a long way off just so they could worship him. They even brought gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh to give to Jesus because they knew he was a king.” Grandma Alice immersed the star in the canister of flour. Molly could hardly contain herself until she was grasping the treasured cutter in her own chubby, dimpled hand.
“Those are funny presents. I bet he really wanted something fun, like a ball or some blocks.” Molly was pushing the star into the center of the dough. Rather than scolding her to be careful where she stuck the star, Alice let her place the cutter in an unorganized fashion. It didn’t matter if she had to keep rolling the dough into a new ball and start over. The joy in her granddaughter’s eyes made the afternoon project an overwhelming success.
“The kings brought what was valuable to them. They gave their best to baby Jesus.” Alice started sliding the misshapen pieces of dough onto the cookie sheet. “If you wanted to give something special to baby Jesus, what would you give, Molly?” At this point, the little girl had jumped off the stool and was chasing Sassy, the tabby cat around the table.
“I don’t know, Gamma, what would He like?” Molly had captured the reluctant cat and was petting her striped fur. She looked up toward her grandma as Sassy meowed, hissed her way out of the child’s grasp, and sprinted toward the basement door.
“Remember what I told you last week when we looked at the Christmas story book?” Alice ended the question with a hopeful, leading rise in pitch.
“Oh, yeah, I member, gamma. He wants to have my heart.” She scuffled through the flour, leaving shoe prints all over the wooden floor. At that point, Sassy decided to rejoin the party and ran through the scene as well, leaving little paw prints that zigzagged past the stove as she escaped this time.
“That’s right, Molly. He wants all of our hearts.” Alice lifted her flowered, cotton apron to her eyes and reached under her bifocals to dab the tears. Baking Christmas cookies could be the best way to worship Jesus at Christmas time.
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