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New Year’s Dessert-Oprah style

Mom saw this amazing dessert on Oprah that she said we had to try. So we did-it took a whole day! Probably due to the fact that we had the little apprentice under foot & a drop in visitor, but they were so amazing we’d do it all over again. It may be a yearly tradition now. The recipe is a DC Cupcake recipe for Strawberry Champagne Sparkler Cupcakes. It was a hit. And we had enough leftovers to make them again a few nights later!

Welcome Home

A weekend of celebration led us, as it often does, straight into a week of fatigue and illness for poor Trip. He was miserable with a fever and persistent, thick cough.  He would come out of a coughing spasm saying “trah-tor, trah-tor” just begging to get outside on his new ride. But, as January birthdays go (I know from a lifetime of experience) you are often laid up in bed while your shiny new birthday present awaits you in the cold damp garage. To make matters colder, we got quite an unloading of Texas snow in the following days. (Texas snow: white fluffy matter that falls beautifully from the sky, hits the eternally warm concrete & turns to mud slush.) So Trip is hacking and begging tractor; mommie is begging sunshine & reprieve from ill 2 year old; Jossi exclaims “what’s the deal guys? let’s have a tea party!” And my mom texts me “Welcome Home Guys!” Only a Texan would think that a few inches of Texas snow is consolation for giving up life in the Western slope.  Haha-thanks anyways mom. It was the thought that counted.

So my time indoors is focused on (aside from the obvious motherly duties) finishing projects around the house, finishing an earwarmer I was knitting and starting a new knitting project, reading my book on square foot gardening & making plans and playing with my new cricut Luke got me for my birthday! YAY!

Hilltop House in the snow

Trip’s 2nd Birthday

What’s a party with out cupcakes & big wheels?

The boys we so thrilled to have girls piled in the back. Hopefully this isn't a look into the future.

Christmas Snapshots

We have a fun new pic tradition we started when my parents were visiting us in Montrose. We set the camera up on the tripod during dinner & Luke has the remote & clicks random shots. We always end up with some pretty funny ones. This one I just love because of Trip.

This one was posed...well we tried at least. (For my CO friends: this is my dining room area. I promise I will get pics of the house up on the blog soon.)

Goofy Pop

Frantic opening-Joss couldn't handle how slowly Trip opens his presents!

Newly Weds Jake & Kailee

Who's that Hottie?! Oh ya, that's my man.

Jossi in jubilation over her new robe.

Trip is almost too fair skinned for me to use this photo effect. Poor whitey.

My Little Man

Aww, Trip is and always will be my little man. Even when he is 18 & embarrassed by my affection. Deep down he will still love it-even if he won’t admit it! Trip turned 2 last week, so I had to be sentimental and look back at a few of his newborn photos. I think he looks just the same, but I guess it’s because I can see his spirit in his eyes, even at 7 days old. April told me he looks like a puffy Trip-which is so true! He is a treasure and brings me so much joy every day with his sweet spirit and open affection. Happy Birthday my love!

Christmas Eve Brunch

Luke’s family came over mid-morning on Christmas Eve Day and we had a great brunch. I made quiche, scrambled cheesy eggs (for the no-quiche peope), bacon, fruit and Jenny’s poppy seed bread. It was our first time to host at our new home  & it went so well.

What gets me going in the morning.

A Delightful Christmas Eve Brunch

Greeting their new Aunt Kailee at the door-first time they'd seen each other since the wedding.

Big Buzzard hug-don't ask us why she calls him that. We don't know.

Meemaw & Jossi

Joss loving her Christmas gift from Jake & Kailee

Art is the lie that makes us realize truth

This post is not my own-it is from the Village Church’s creative blogger. I hope I’m not breaking any rules here, but the link is above & the post is below. I knew half of you wouldn’t read it if you had to click one page further. I always find it to be a good read…

Blue Pomegranates and Purple Sugar Plums: Why Christian Parents Don’t Have to Sell Out Santa

As he donned his priestly garb, it’s possible that Aaron raised a concerned eyebrow. Along the ornate hem of his robe appeared beautifully depicted blue pomegranates. Curiously these anomalies (there are no blue pomegranates) appeared not by an artisan’s accident but by God-given instruction (Exodus 28:33). Are blue pomegranates insignificant decorative details? Possibly, but for the wide-eyed youth sitting cross-legged receiving instruction, the perplexing produce might have propelled thoughts towards something grand. Not unlike dancing sugar plums orbiting the disproportional heads of small children come December. Few other times do kid’s minds wander like they do during the Christmas season? Twinkling lights, tasty treats, and harmonizing carolers initiate a soiree of the senses that stirs the imagination. Imagination, the oft-neglected piece of mind furniture, has a place in Christian education. From the ethos of the temple to the spirit of Christmas, the left side of the brain needs massaging from an early age.

The Imagination
Far from frivolity, imagining is critical to understanding. G.K. Chesterton warned of its unduly disregard. He once wrote, “There is a notion adrift everywhere that imagination, especially mystical imagination, is dangerous to man’s mental balance… [However] Mysticism keeps men sane. As long as you have mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity.” Those who neglect the imagination in childhood may be intellectually rigid in adulthood, or as Chesterton suggests, insane. He continues, “The ordinary man has always been sane because he is a mystic. He has permitted the twilight. He has always had one foot in earth and the other in fairyland.”(1) It is this toe-tapping that gives the mind its equilibrium.

Yet the imagination is more than a stabilizer, it is a romaticizer, an emotional vehicle. It’s no accident that children have vivid imaginations. Creative thought is an instinctive tool for critical analysis of reality, for arriving at truth. The practice is necessary for holistic development.

Christmas Magic
The holiday season makes fertile ground of young minds. Which seeds to plant is the question on the heart of many a concerned parent. That right jolly old Elf often draws the brunt of much anti-imaginary sentiment. However, the details of that mythical character are relatively insignificant compared to the magic involved. J.R.R. Tolkien confirms, “The definition of a fairy-story—what it is, or what it should be—does not, then, depend on any definition or historical account of elf or fairy, but upon…the air that blows in that country.” (2) When the airy spirit of Christmas is present, the sum is greater that its parts. Why else would many children upon learning the truth about Santa continue to pretend along with the ignorant others? Details regarding the reality of Santa appear to be inconsequential. It is the air in the winter wonderland that is thick with meaning.

C.S. Lewis once wrote regarding a particular icon, “…its purpose is, not to fix attention upon itself, but to stimulate and liberate certain activities in the child…The Teddy-bear exists in order that the child may endow it with imaginary life and personality and enter into a quasi-social relationship with it. That is what ‘playing with it’ means. The better this activity succeeds the less the actual appearance of the object will matter.”(3) Santa has a place at the holiday table but his presence is utilitarian, his position is technical. A family that harnesses its energy will find that in fantasy there is truth-expounding potential.

The Monstrous Worship of Facts
Pablo Picasso once said, “We all know that Art (the product of the imagination) is not truth. Art is the lie that makes us realize truth.” The heightened reality is intentionally grandiose. Leland Ryken explains, “Works of [imagination] always represent a distillation of human experience or external reality. Artists, in other words, silhouette the essence of their subject so that we see it with heightened clarity.”(4) The imagination is the “lie” that tells the truth.

It’s difficult to defend lying. Scripture certainly doesn’t condone it. Rahab was a justified liar, but she was also a prostitute, fibbing was the least of her moral failings. Her lying to save the spies however makes an interesting case for situational ethics. Not unlike telling one’s spouse they look beautiful regardless of the circumstances. Children equally require an understandable avoidance of the facts. Most parents are comfortable to delay the details of sex until later. Who hasn’t flushed the pet goldfish only to replace it with an exact replica? The cause and effect relationship of candy to cavities is almost always exaggerated. Is delayed explanation the same as falsifying information?

Modernists are relentless collectors of facts, while many other cultures’ entire societies are based on folklore. Oscar Wilde rebukes the one who “falls into careless habits of accuracy, or takes to frequenting the society of the aged and the well-informed. Both things are equally fatal to his imagination, as indeed they would be fatal to the imagination of anybody, and in a short time he develops a morbid and unhealthy faculty of truth-telling, begins to verify all statements made in his presence, has no hesitation in contradicting people who are much younger than himself…and if something cannot be done to check, or at least to modify, our monstrous worship of facts, Art will become sterile and Beauty will pass away from the land.”(5) It is unwise to tell children bold-face lies. It is often more unwise to give children all the facts.

The Reason for the Season
Still some balk at mingling Kris Kringle with the Jesus-child; ”Fairy tales are fun, but we don’t ask our children to believe them…It’s very difficult for a young child to pick through a marble cake of part truth and part imagination to find the crumbs of reality.”(6) Yet what child will eat of a flavorless pastry? No Christian parent will argue against the primacy of the Incarnation as the core of the holiday. What’s needed to highlight that core is not the exclusion of all other elements but to orchestrate a seasonal symphony with Christ as the crescendo.

Unfortunately, some have become accustomed to playing out of tune. Christian parents who integrate Christmas magic must eliminate a couple of bad notes, both of which could probably be blamed on Coca-Cola. Before the soda’s marketing campaign hi-jacked Santa’s image in the 1930’s, the mythical figure was (among other various manifestations) a miniature elf that gave gifts to poor children not according to merit but simple charity. The new consumable Santa morphed into a red-suited (red, according to color theory, is used as an accent to stimulate people towards quick decisions), overweight, loveable old man. Coca-Cola Santa’s physical appearance coupled with a hyper-consumerist environment requires redemption.

Trying to undo what the secular has done to the sacred is forever the Christian’s formidable task. Reversing the contemporary Claus’ costume may be wishful thinking, but the consumerism for which he stands is not impossibility. It’s not cliché to say Christmas is about giving gifts rather than receiving them. God gave His Son. Christian parents give gifts to friends and family. Difficulties arise when the giving becomes conditional. Those who barter with Santa’s gifts, adjudicating the naughty and the nice, do so to the misunderstanding of free grace. Christmas is not a seasonal behavior modifier.

Nor does Saint Nick need to resemble what some perceive God to look like, a benevolent, elderly Caucasian with a billowy beard. Confusion here may be more telling of how Christian parents teach spirituality than fantasy. Foundational truths taught throughout the year will not be trumped by occasional seasonal tales. Even Yule-time lore can be Christo-centric. Instead of late-night stories of omniscient fat men, illustrate the mystical nature of the God/child. Santa’s attributes should be made minor by comparison.

Chesterton once called his opponent “a slave because he is not allowed to believe fairies.” Children will soon enough robotically mature into the jaded, adult world of non-fiction. For awhile can adults allow the little ones’ imaginations to soar? Still parents err on both fronts; some shield their kids from all things Santa while others refuse even the sharpest child any investigation in the truth. Neither makes use of the imagination’s potential to lead to greater understanding.

Christian parents need not sell out Santa, nor do they need to force-feed fairytales. Christmas continues and will continue to be about the Incarnation for the Church. Children are by nature creative and resourceful in the way they process reality. Adults can teach with a twinkle in their eye, and kids can learn by using their imagination.

drink more black coffee, identify more constellations,
>The Anthropologist

1. G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (Relevant Books, 2006), 35.

2. J.R.R. Tolkien, “On Fairy Stories,” The Tolkien Reader (Del Rey, 1986), 4.

3. C.S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism (Cambridge University Press, 1992), 17.

4. Leland Ryken, The Liberated Imagination (Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2005), 111.

5. Oscar Wilde, The Decay of Lying, (Kessinger Publishing, 2004) 4.

6. Noel Piper, Treasuring God in Our Traditions (Crossway Books, 2003), 80.