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Holiday memories

December 12, 2012
By Pat Jensen , Marshall Independent

Many years ago when our kids were still in school, there was a discussion about Christmas and gift giving. The kids liked to make lists of what they wished for - and looking through the pages of the big "wish book" (Christmas catalog) only helped to make their lists longer.

I suggested that we attempt to have an "old time" Christmas; much like the great-grandparents would have enjoyed several years ago. We could make some simple ornaments for the tree, while including some decorations we already had. That idea went over pretty well, but then I suggested that instead of buying lots of gifts, we should give things that we had made ourselves.

The kids had talent and imagination. Coming up with a few simple gifts should not be too difficult. The kids did not agree. You would have thought I was asking them to cut off one of their limbs!

Some parents go into debt in an effort to give their children everything they want (or think they want). My parents did not do that. Putting food on the table and paying the bills came first. Then the shopping was done. There were always gifts under the tree, and we enjoyed them all.

In my opinion, less is better. There is a greater appreciation for what is received. Gifts need not be so expensive. How many kids (or adults) can remember what they got for Christmas just one year ago? But if you ask where you spent Christmas and what you did (such as going sledding), you'll get many more responses.

When I was a youngster, there were no gift cards or gift receipts. We were taught to express our thanks for a gift even if it wasn't something we would have chosen for ourselves. There were no returns or exchanges.

One year my grandparents gave me a wooden pencil box with my name printed on the lid. Inside the box were some pencils and my name was on each one. This gift didn't make me jump with joy, but I smiled and thanked grandpa and grandma for the nice present. As I recall, many of the grandkids received a pencil box that year. I wonder how many still have theirs.

I kept the pencil box in my room and used the pencils as needed. As I grew older, I came to appreciate the gift even more. My grandparents are gone now, but I still have the pencil box and one pencil that bears my name. This is one pencil I will never use.

Christmas is a time for everyone to come together - to celebrate the birth of Jesus and also reconnect with our kids and other family members.

In this busy world of ours, people spend many hours working to provide for themselves or their families. Some children seldom spend time with their parents or other relatives. Kids don't need a lot of new toys and gadgets to be happy. They would enjoy spending some quality time with mom or dad - doing something fun; board games, playing cards, or baking and decorating cookies. Short on time? Use purchased refrigerated cookie dough and canned frosting. Provide sprinkles, colored sugars ... and watch the smiles appear.

Kids need attention from the adults in their lives. Doing activities together will be remembered long after the toys are broken or outgrown.

Spending Christmas with Grandpa and Grandma Willert always guaranteed there would be popcorn balls to enjoy


2 cups sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup white vinegar

2 T. light corn syrup

2 cups corn kernels, popped

In a heavy saucepan, cook the mixture of sugar, butter, vinegar and corn syrup to 245 deg. Pour cooked syrup over popcorn and mix to coat. With buttered hands, shape popcorn balls. Yield: 2 dozen.

Whatever the holiday, I always hoped Mom would serve this dessert


1/2 cup butter, melted

1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 (8-oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened

4 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup sugar

1 can blueberry pie filling

Mix melted butter and cracker crumbs. Press into a 9x13 pan. Bake at 325, 10 min. Mix the eggs, one at a time with the cream cheese. Add vanilla and sugar; mix well. Spread over baked crust. Bake at 325 for 20 min. Cool. Spread pie filling over the top. Chill overnight before serving.

My husband always enjoyed his Mom's cranberry salad


1 bag fresh cranberries

1 seedless orange, unpeeled


Using a grinder, blender or food processor, grind cranberries until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl. Then cut the orange in pieces and grind until very fine. Add orange to cranberries. Stir together. Add sugar and sweeten to taste. Refrigerate.

Note: Similar to a relish in texture.

May a wonderful collection of holiday memories be yours to treasure this season.

Merry Christmas!



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