Experience the Sights, Sounds & Smells of Christmas
December 2, 2014
From the time I was a small child, I’ve been captivated by books. I usually keep a paperback in my purse, so I can read a few pages as I wait to pick up my kids from one of their activities. I love reading on long car trips (from the passenger seat, of course!) because I lose track of time and stop counting the miles. I’ve even been known to sneak in a little reading on a rainy day in the pumpkin patch!
Books allow us to dream. They can take us on adventures to faraway places, and they let us experience things that we’d never otherwise have the chance to see or do.
Books can also help us connect with others. There are so many benefits of early reading... Just think of the warm feelings experienced by both kids and adults when stories are read at bedtime.
“Every night at bedtime, beginning Dec. 1, the boys unwrap one book and we read it,” says Iowan Katie Olthoff, who blogs at On the Banks of Squaw Creek. “The past two years I’ve let them unwrap the books randomly, but this year I’m numbering the packages. Our favorite books will be unwrapped at the beginning of December, so we can read them repeatedly throughout the month. The last book they’ll unwrap will be The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve.”
One of my favorite children’s holiday books is the Sweet Smell of Christmas. As a kid, I was intrigued by the scratch & sniff stickers inside the book like “the aroma of gingerbread cookies, minty candy canes, the piney Christmas tree, and yummy hot apple pie.” As an adult, I loved reliving that “experience” with my own children.
Isn’t it interesting how aromas can help you relive a moment in time? Scents can remind us of special memories, and they also can transform our moods. My troop of 7th Grade Girl Scouts recently began studying how the air we breathe impacts our lives. As we enjoyed cups of Hot Cranberry Punch, we discussed how cinnamon helps fight mental fatigue and improves focus. Nutmeg can help eliminate stress, and peppermint is an energy booster. Lavender has calming properties and can help relieve nervous tension, so it’s no wonder many bath salts and body lotions are infused with lavender.
Are you experiencing tired feet from shopping or standing too long in the kitchen while baking for the holidays? Give your feet a homemade spa treatment with Cristen Clark’s homemade Vanilla Mint Sugar Scrub. This mom of two shares this recipe and more on her blog, Food and Swine.
In the spirit of preparing for the holidays, today I’m sharing my mom’s recipe for Gingerbread Cookies. Baking and decorating these cookies has become an annual tradition for my mom and my daughter, although I’m Ellie would gladly eat them any time of the year! And when she grows up, I’m sure the scent of warm gingerbread cookies will bring back warm memories of Grandma Shirley.
Grandma Shirley’s Gingerbread Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen (4-inch) cookies.
½ cup margarine, softened
¾ cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup molasses
2 Tbsp water
2 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp. soda
2 tsp. ginger
½ tsp. cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice
Mix well. Divide the dough in half; refrigerate for 30 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out each portion of dough to 1/8-inch thickness.
Cut with a floured cookie cutter.
Place 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are firm.