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Cooking Corner

December 17, 2011
Bernice Volkens , Reinbeck Courier

I recently was asked if I wrote those silly Christmas letters. I said, "Yes," because when Christmas rolls around I do the traditional things. I decorate a tree, bake cookies, decorate my house, make special gifts and write silly Christmas letters. I know that Christmas letters receive some bad publicity being called "Brag Sheets" or very boring reports that nobody reads. I like them and so far this year I've received a couple and I was delighted and devoured every word. One was a parody of those letters. It started out with bragging, just out of control, but ended up with one kid in jail and they lost their house and declared bankruptcy. It was really funny and I read that one with as much enthusiasm as I did that pictures and a nice account of their family. To me the annual exchange of these letters are very important and one of the happiest customs there is at this time of the year.

I started writing a Christmas letter because I just ran out of time to jot a note to our many relatives and friends who don't live around Reinbeck and I still don't send them to people I see all the time. I keep mine short, but I don't mind getting pages from other people who take the time to tell about their achievements and pleasures. In fact, so much happened in our family this year that my letter was a little longer than usual.

To me a Christmas letter serves two useful purposes. First, they are a very vital link between relatives and friends who are too far away to know what is going on in our family. Second, I save my letters and each is a small but shining chapter of our family biography.

Not only do I enjoy seeing Christmas decorations but I also enjoy the smells of Christmas. Recently I had a friend ask me what I had baking in the oven. I make my own Christmas smell for you or package as a gift. Here is the recipe.


1 Box of whole cloves

1 Bay leaf

1 sliced orange

1 box cinnamon sticks

1 sliced lemon

8 cups of water

Cook together in a tea kettle or pan. This will fill the house with a great aroma. You can reheat this many times. If you are giving this as a gift only use the first 5 ingredients and place in a strong baggy with directions to add water.

"Moral: He who shops early-shops twice."



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