Every Saturday I share three simple things that brought me happiness during the week. These posts may grow or evolve as time passes. Please feel free to share your own simple joys in the comments section!
December 16 – 22
1. Christmas parties and board games.
People usually don’t expect this when they first meet me, but I am fiercely competitive. I love playing (and winning) board games.
Depending completely on your personal opinion, my childhood was either blessed or deprived. Why? Because, to my knowledge, I never tasted fruitcake.
This fact doesn’t disappoint me. Cursory research says that fruitcake was originally created to last for a full 365 days. A baked good that lasts more than a month is a little freaky. What do they put in that stuff?
So here is my version of a fruitcake with bananas, cranberries, oatmeal, and (of course) nut butter. I figure that any loaf with fruit in it can be called “fruitcake,” right?
Unlike real fruitcake, this bread will only last for about a week in the fridge (if you manage not to eat the whole loaf at once).
Makes 1 loaf, about 10 slices
3 overripe bananas
2 cups oatmeal
1.2 oz (about 3.5 tablespoons) Gingerbread Cookie Blended Nut Butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 8X4 inch bread pan with nonstick spray.
In a blender, combine bananas, egg, oatmeal, nut butter, and baking soda. Blend until smooth.
Stir in spices.
Fold in chopped cranberries.
Pour into greased baking pan. Top with sliced bananas, if desired.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool completely.
Slice and top with anything you would like! Butter, jam, more nutbutter, etc.
Carols were sung, presents were opened, and Christmas lunch had been enjoyed. With a quick glance at the clock, we knew that we had enough time to hike at Sleeping Giant State Park. According to Brother, the trail was about the length of the trail at Pilot Mountain, so we grabbed some water bottles and hopped in the car.
As we were approaching exit 59 on Wilbur Cross Parkway, we noticed that traffic was moving slowly up ahead, but we continued towards the tunnel.
Then we stopped. Traffic was literally parked on the parkway for over an hour. Some people started heading the wrong way down the entrance ramp; others started making u-turns in the grass. One man even managed to cut off three people in stand-still traffic, and a lady got out of her car to yell at him.
Yet, we also saw much Christmas cheer. I honestly don’t remember the last time I laughed that hard with my family. Other families even began distributing Christmas cookies!
Much later than expected, we arrived at Sleeping Giant and raced against the clock to hike to the top. Although Brother compared the trail to Pilot Mountain, which is described as a “moderate relatively flat 0.8 mile loop,” the trail we walked was closer to that of Hanging Rock (a 1.3-mile one-way trail). It almost felt like we ran to the top, took some pictures, and speed-walked to the bottom.
…and any time Mom asked how far we were from the top, Brother’s reply was, “It’s not that far.”
It seems that in December, we click the “fast forward” button on our already busy lives. In addition to scheduling parties, concerts, and family gatherings, we join thousands of shoppers at the mall so that we can find the perfect gift for everyone on our list. We also manage to find the time to decorate our houses with trees, tinsel, garland, lights, ornaments, and figurines.
Why do we smash more activity into our busyness? Because it is Christmastime!
But what exactly is Christmas?
When I asked Google about Christmas, I found some poetic results:
wrapping, and sticking, and envelope licking
tree decorating and staying up lating
shopping and bopping and parties non-stopping
stocking filling and lots of good willing
While those answers might sound pleasant, I think there has to be more to the most expensive holiday in the USA than “Monopoly cheating and quality streeting.”
I originally drafted a post about the etymology of the word Christmas (Christ + mass) and how that is associated to what Christmas is, but I realized that Linus from Charlie Brown explained it better than I ever could.
Christmas is not a season of bustling bodies and predictable presents.
Christmas is not a month of extravagant parties and family feasts.
Christmas is not long days of travel and competitive board games.
Christmas is a moment that changed all other moments. Christmas is the birth of Jesus.