Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Day 8 of an Anderson Christmas--Cookies!!!!

13 years ago I received the best gift I have ever gotten from anyone!  Ever!  It may seem weird to some of you, but my sister-in-law gave me, what I think may be, the best cookie recipe in the world!  Seriously!  Molasses sugar cookies--YUM-O!  This magnificent recipe came beautifully packaged atop a nice tin of the scrumptiously baked product.  I have never tasted anything quite so delightful in all my life.

As an aside:  It is not an unusual thing for me to keep some of these suckers on hand (frozen) so that I can take a couple out at any given time when I have a "sweets" craving.  I put a small scoop of vanilla ice cream between two of them, and sandwich these little delights together.  I have included a picture, just to get your taste buds going!  You're welcome, by the way!

Now, for those of you that know me very well, you know that I make a lot of cookies.  In fact, I make 15 dozen cookies each and every week for one of my church's less formal worship services.  Each week I have some random, yet customized crazy little hand-held treat.  However, these molasses sugar cookies are, in my opinion, the best one of them all.

The receipt of this gift was the genesis for my final, and (by far) favorite Christmas tradition--making and delivering homemade cookies for my amazing neighbors. 

If you have been reading my blog, or if you have been to my house, you know that we live out in the boonies.  Not to say that we don't have neighbors (we do), we just don't live right next door to our neighbors.  That being said, we have had to make a concerted effort to get to know the folks that share our little corner of the middle of nowhere, and what a journey it has been!

We have the most awesome community you can imagine.  We are only about 11 minutes from Target, but it feels like an entirely different planet when you are out here.  It is a good 30 minutes, round trip, to the grocery store if you have forgotten something.  We are at the mercy of the county when it snows, as there is only one road in and that same road out.  We have no natural gas lines or municipal water sources to draw from.  Internet service is sketchy, and cable television is non-existent (thank goodness for satellite)!  So, most of you city folk are probably wondering how we could ever possibly survive out here.  Well, I will tell you--we do it as a community.

When we lived in town (in a pretty decent-sized neighborhood, I might add) we knew the names of exactly one family that lived by us.  We shared a strip of grass between our houses and would frequently chit-chat while out doing yard work.  That's it.  One neighbor.  Period.  And end of a very short and sad story.

So, when we moved out to the sticks, we resolved (out of a true desire as well as out of sheer necessity) to get to know our neighbors.  I mean really get to know our neighbors.

Shortly after we moved in, I was on this baking kick and had made a ton of cookies.  I really didn't want them in my house--because I would just consume them all.  So, I thought it would be fun to share them with those around us.  Thus began a tradition of hand delivering some Christmas joy to our neighbors.

It has been so much fun!  Now that my kids are able to act as my "little elves", they absolutely have a blast!  They have been able to get to know all the great people that we live by (as well as all the dogs who come running in hopes of receiving a treat too)!  Our neighbors have begun to grow comfortable with the Anderson children, and we have cultivated new friendships with folks we would have otherwise never met, in the process.

During this time, we have been blessed by our neighbors (there was the time when we called one of them to come kill a 5 foot, meaner-than-heck rattle snake that was seeking asylum in our home).  We have also been able to be a blessing to them.  We have, on many occasions, been able to "share" water when the pump to their well has gone out (see, these are the things that city dwellers don't have to deal with).  We have had the opportunity to bottle feed calves, as well as take care of a vast array of dogs, cats and even a couple of fish.  We have sledded, snowboarded and made snowmen when our entire neighborhood was snowed in for 3 days straight!  We have borrowed and shared a multitude of various kitchen items (butter, sugar, sour cream, etc), and in the process have become this strange and eclectic little "family", of sorts.

This years' package from Chateau de Anderson was a mixed pack--consisting of Snickerdoodles, Grasshopper, Cappuccino Chocolate Chip, and of course the signature Molasses Sugar Cookie.  My kids were all giggles (even though it was FREEZING) on delivery day.  We were able to share with those around us, and were able to add one more layer of community to our already awesome little utopia.

So, in writing this final entry of my Christmas blog, I have a few, but simple take-home points.  First, I bet you have some amazing neighbors.  I would encourage you to take the first step and reach out to them.  You might be surprised to find a little diamond-in-the-rough living right next door. 

Second, encourage your kids to engage those around them.  I know, we live in a scary world with scary people.  I'm not saying to put your kids in harm's way.  But, our world seems to have lost a lot of what makes us uniquely human--the need to belong to a community.  The actions of a few disturbed people (who, quite frankly, may have not been so disturbed if even one person had been kind) have let fear drive a wedge between otherwise normal and friendly folks in our world.  I think it is up to each and every one of us to drive that element of fear right back out. 

Finally, never underestimate the power of one simple gift.  My sister-in-law has no idea how many lives she has touched because of this one very meaningful (and, I might add, inexpensive--for all you tight-wads out there) gift.  It was well-planned and well-executed.  It will serve as a gateway to immeasurable friendships for the Anderson family for years to come.

So, I hope I have encouraged you and your family to begin the process of cultivating community and friendships--wherever your little piece of the world is. 

Have a very, Merry Christmas and community-filled New Year!

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