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Who Is Santa Claus?

 

I don’t know if you receive a lot of forwards in your email In Box like I do or not. But my friends are always sending me neat stuff,  like jokes and cartoons that make me laugh, stories that make me cry or inspire; even educational items that expand my mind. I love receiving all of it. 

I know some people who do not like receiving these types of emails. They consider it junk and a waste of their precious time. I look at it a little differently. These emails tell me my friends are thinking of me and like and care for me enough to send things they find interesting.  It is an act of friendship. My friends are telling me, “You are my friend and I want you to know I was thinking of you today,”  “Or this made me laugh and I want to share a laugh with you.”

Sometimes I am not sure if the stories are real or true or not. For factual items it matters, and for that I have the websites snopes or truth or fiction.

For other stories, it doesn’t matter if they are true or not. The following story falls into this later category. I don’t care if it is a true story or non-fiction or if it is fiction. It doesn’t matter to the moral of the story.

The forward came with no title, no author, no explanation. But it has a small kernel of truth to it about Christmas, about Santa Claus, and about the true meaning of Christmas and giving.

I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma.

I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: “There is no Santa Claus,” she jeered. “Even dummies know that!”

My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her “World-Famous” Cinnamon Buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. So it had to be true.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. “No Santa Claus?” she snorted…. “Ridiculous! Don’t believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!! Now, put on your coat, and let’s go.”

“Go? Go where, Grandma?” I asked. I hadn’t even finished my Second World-Famous Cinnamon Bun. “Where” turned out to be Kerby’s General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. 

As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days. “Take this money,” she said, “and buy something for someone who needs it. I’ll wait for you in the car.” Then she turned and walked out of Kerby’s.

I was only eight years old. I’d often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school,  people who went to my church. I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock’s grade-two class.

Bobby Decker didn’t have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn’t have a cough; he didn’t have a good coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat! I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that.

“Is this a Christmas present for someone?” the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down. “Yes, ma’am,” I replied shyly. “It’s for Bobby.” The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat. I didn’t get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, “To Bobby, From Santa Claus” on it.

Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker’s house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa’s helpers.

Grandma parked down the street from Bobby’s house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. “All right, Santa Claus,” she whispered, “get going.” I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby. 

Fifty years haven’t dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker’s bushes.

That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were, ridiculous. 

Santa was alive and well. And we were on his team.

May you always have love to share, health to spare, and friends who care.

And may you always believe in the magic of Santa Claus!

To my friends and readers, have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanza and Merry Winter Solstice!
Best Of Featured Recipe          
Sun Dried Tomato Bread Dipping Oil

One of the great things about eating out is the delicious and flavorful dipping oils served at many restaurants with bread. There is a small Mediterranean restaurant a few miles from where I live. They serve the most wonderful sun dried tomato dipping oil with their bread. I mean, it is to die for.

It looks simple enough: sun dried tomatoes, olive oil, and rosemary. I have tried to recreate it in my kitchen. While it is not AS good as theirs, it is surprisingly delicious. Let me put it this way. No one has ever complained. It gets raves. Of course, they have never tasted the real thing.

Anyhoo. I thought during the autumnal holiday season when, as we just learned,  we eat more, you might like to try this yourself. It is easy to make

Now I don’t have a real recipe. I just kind of, sort of guess at amounts. As Rachel Ray says, “Just eyeball it.”

With that in mind, here goes.

This is what you will need for 2-3 people:

About 6 or 7 sun dried tomatoes packed in oil

Olive oil

Rosemary

Bread

Here is what you do:

Slice the tomatoes as thin as possible.

Then dice them. Keep chopping them and chopping them and chopping them until they are as tiny as you can get them. (Or just throw them in a processor with a bit of olive oil.) 

If I was making this for 50 people or even a small crowd, I would probably just throw the contents of the jar in a processor, whirl it a short while and add some olive oil. But I don’t need that much. And it only keeps a day or two, maybe three, in the fridge. So I do the chopping stuff.

Do be careful though. After all that slicing and chopping of the oily tomatoes both your hands and the knife will be very slippery. No cut fingers please.

When the tomatoes are as finely cut as you like throw them in a bowl.

Add some of the oil from the jar. Not all of it. Keep the remaining tomatoes covered in oil. But do add some of it for the flavor. Then add enough olive oil to make the dip the consistency of dipping oil you get at a restaurant.

Now add a little bit of rosemary. Not too much. But not too little either. Just enough to give a slight flavor to the whole shebang. It also looks pretty too don’t you think?

With the red and green this dipping oil looks like Christmas, dosen’t it?

Now for the good part. Get your bread. Slice it. Dip it. Eat it. Repeat as often as necessary.

You will never be the same again.

Bon Appetit!!!

Cost

8 sun dried tomatoes            $1.08

Olive oil (3 tbspn?)                $0.50

Rosemary                             $0.05

Bread                                   $1.50

Total cost = $3.13
Cost per person for 3 = $1.04

Quote of the Day

Whenever you give someone a present or sing a holiday song, you’re helping Santa Claus. To me, that’s what Christmas is all about. Helping Santa Claus!

Louis Sachar Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger

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