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Fun with the Family with Julie Lavender - Make time for cocoa, cookies
Julie Lavender
Julie Lavender

Julie Lavender-120411

Listen to Julie Lavender's 'Fun with the Family' column.

    With recent headlines screaming of pepper-sprayed shopping competitors and choked customers over a waffle iron, one can truly appreciate the lyrics to the song, originally sung by Angela Lansbury, We Need a Little Christmas. Right now. Right this very minute.
    Welcome the true spirit of Christmas into your heart, with quality time spent with loved ones, lingering visits with shut-ins, special gifts and donations to those in need, a smile for those you pass on the street, and ample time to stop and smell the cocoa! Along with Christmas gifts and goodies, share these special December days with friends and family.
    Letter Writing Day — With the continued advancement of electronics, letter-writing has almost become a novelty of days gone by. Gather seasonal stationary and colorful writing utensils and have a family letter-writing day. Pen holiday greetings to a friend whom you’ve not visited with in months or choose a local acquaintance who might be a bit lonely this time of year.  End the writing venture with a note to Santa if you’d like, and encourage the kids to thank Santa for last year’s treats.   
    Golf Tee Birthday — Where would we be without the golf tee? Celebrate this invention with a game for the entire family. Push a golf tee into a raw baking potato or one that has a flattened side, allowing the tee to extend above the potato. Have each person use a permanent marker to decorate or label a ping pong ball. Then take turns placing ping pong balls on the tee and “flicking” them off with the thumb and forefinger to see whose ball can go the farthest. Or, place a target on the ground, like a bull’s eye drawn on yesterday’s newspaper, and see who can get his or her ball the closest to the mark.
    National Ambrosia Day — There’s just about as many ambrosia recipes as there are varieties of fruits. Pick family favorites to combine and serve with homemade whipped cream and shortbread cookies. (No calories whatsoever during the month of December, by the way!) Here’s a simple recipe: Peel, skin, and dice into a large bowl one dozen oranges, making sure to capture the juice from each orange into the dish as well. Add about a fourth of a cup of sugar and one small jar of chopped maraschino cherries and juice. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, add two apples, peeled and diced into small pieces. Just before serving, add one chopped banana.
    National Cocoa Day — Choose a cold evening this month to serve up a warm mug of cocoa. Dim the overhead lights, light the Christmas tree, play seasonal tunes, and sip on this warm chocolaty delight.
    Christmas — Make a table decoration as a reminder of the joys of giving. After reading the Christmas story in Luke, chapter two, read chapter two of the book of Matthew. Talk about the gifts the Magi brought for Jesus and share gifts that you can give to others, tangible, as well as physical acts of kindness. Then make edible Magi with sugar ice cream cones turned upside down for the body, glazed doughnut holes for the head, and colored fruit leather pieces wrapped around the cone for a robe.
    National Candy Cane Day — Use leftover candy canes to make a sweet treat. Unwrap candy canes and place in a re-sealable bag. Place the bag on a dishcloth to protect the counter. Use a meat mallet to crush the canes into very fine pieces. The back of a large spoon will work, also. Melt vanilla-flavored candy coating and add the crushed candy. Pour the warm mixture onto waxed paper and allow it to harden. Break the dessert treat into small pieces and store in an air-tight container. Each time you snack on the peppermint treat, talk about the sights, sounds, and smells of the Christmas season.
    Fill the month of December with joy and happiness, memories and magic. Don’t let the frenzy of shopping and to-do lists detract from the spirit of the holiday. Sip hot cocoa, enjoy the aroma of gingerbread baking and fresh-cut fir trees, be dazzled by twinkling lights, listen for sleigh bells and carolers, and feel the warmth in your heart from time spent with those you love.
    Statesboro native Julie Bland Lavender celebrates with husband David and children Jeremy, Jenifer, Jeb Daniel, and Jessica.

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