Early Holiday Gift Exchange – for each of you

Good morning friends. I’d love to ask for your help today as I look towards finding the holiday spirit. You see, until this year I’ve always been surrounded by people and scents and sounds as the holiday season started approaching.

This year is different, though. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. But this year I’ve gone through many life changes that have planted me smack dab in the middle of a home office. I don’t have friends or co-workers at my desk to talk me into doing the dreaded office Secret Santa games; no potlucks where I could bring my favorite Salsa Cheesecake; no Holiday Happy Hours that I can drop in on after a hectic day of driving my team to hit their numbers before year’s end. And with having my foot surgery, I can’t even get out to the Malls to see the children lined up with letters to Santa.

Nope, this year I am at home, and my holiday spirit has to come from within – and from the Hallmark commercials.. So I’d love to ask you each for a story to help me find my Holiday spark 🙂 I’d love for you to share  your favorite Christmas gift – whether you were the giver or the receiver. And in return, I’ll share with you my covete recipe for Salsa Cheesecake – sound good?

OK, I’ll start with my favorite present – it was from my Mom. Ever since I was high enough to reach the kitchen counter with a stool, I loved to be in the kitchen with Mom. She taught me to cook and to bake and to believe in my talents. And she taught me that Betty Crocker was the Queen of the Kitchen. Throughout my childhood, some of my fondess memories involved pulling out the 1970 edition of Betty’s recipes and my brother and sister, and we would choose which Christmas Cookies we wanted to make based on the pictures.

Needless to say, this cookbook got a lot of wear and tear over the years. The binding took a beating, and the pages were stained with coffee and cocoa from the clumsiness of youth. And I loved this cookbook. This particular edition of Betty Crocker, I must say, has the most luscious recipe for banana cake that I’ve ever encountered.

Three years ago, pre-PC, Cole and I went back to Virginia for Christmas. I took him to visit Mom and Slats and my sisters Kelly and Gina. We saw the National Christmas Tree and the holiday nostalgia of Olde Town, Alexandria. And we spent a Christmas together. When Christmas morning arrived, I found myself in my childhood home. I rushed to the tree with my son and my family, and we all opened our gifts.

When I began to unwrap my present from Mom, I saw a strange silverish-grey corner to what seemed to be a book. As the paper pulled back, I noticed that Duct Tape had replaced the worn binding on Betty Crocker Cookbook, 1970 edition. It was falling apart, tattered and faded. But when I opened the pages, the photos of the cookies reminded me of childhood. And I thought to myself, this is the best present ever.

OK, your turn. Would you please share your favorites, or a favorite memory? What inspires you most about the holidays? Perhaps we will find some fun gift ideas from each other to make holiday shopping a little more fun.

And, as promised, the recipe for my Salsa Cheesecake…..

Warm Regards,

Heidi Lee

2 thoughts on “Early Holiday Gift Exchange – for each of you

  1. Friends spent one Christmas Eve driving about, the goal to hand out envelopes containing cash to people they felt might be in need. Oh the stories that emerged from this attempt, one that didn’t work quite as intended. I won’t detail their misadventure, but it was one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. I still have a copy somewhere. There hearts were in the right place…

    My ex once gave me a print of Bev Doolittle’s The Earth Is My Mother, and I treasure it still. (Youngest loves it, so one day it goes to her.) A lot of thoughtfulness went into this gift, just as Bev put much into its creation. It’s a pretty good representation of a lot that I believe – and feel.

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